Chair Grijalva Celebrates Bipartisan House Passage of Recovering America’s Wildlife Act
Washington, D.C. – Today, the U.S. House of Representatives passed H.R. 2773, the Recovering America’s Wildlife Act (RAWA), by a bipartisan vote of 231-190. This legislation, introduced by Natural Resources Committee member Rep. Debbie Dingell (D-Mich.), will provide nearly $1.4 billion per year to states, territories, and Tribes to conserve, restore, and protect wildlife species of greatest conservation need and their habitats. The funding includes a $97.5 million annual noncompetitive Tribal Wildlife Conservation and Restoration grant program for Tribes.
A fact sheet on RAWA is available here: https://bit.ly/3zDmz6c
On passage of RAWA, Natural Resources Committee Chair Raúl M. Grijalva (D-Ariz.) said, “Protecting wildlife is not just the right thing to do, it’s the smart thing to do. Healthy, thriving wildlife populations are one of our greatest defenses against the looming threat of climate change—they help protect shorelines from storm surges, make our forests more resilient against wildfires, and keep pests and invasive species in check. Diverse wildlife is also critical to the country’s booming outdoor economy, as any hunter, angler, birder, or other wildlife watcher can tell you.
“The Recovering America’s Wildlife Act will make a huge difference in helping states, territories, and Tribes ramp up their wildlife protection efforts and I’m proud to vote ‘yes’ on this bill. I’m so grateful for the work my friend Representative Dingell has done to carry on the great legacy of her late husband and wildlife champion John Dingell and I look forward to seeing this bill make it to the president’s desk soon.”
Rep. Dingell said, “Right now, the United States is facing an unprecedented biodiversity crisis. We’ve already seen our nation’s beautiful monarch butterfly population plummet, and we’ve lost nearly 3 billion birds since 1970. Without a significant change in the way we finance conservation, more of the animals and wildlife we hold dear to our heart will become endangered. The Recovering America’s Wildlife Act is landmark legislation that takes long-overdue action to address this crisis by using innovative, on-the-ground collaboration that will protect our nation’s environmental heritage. We have a conservation, economic, and moral obligation to act in order to protect and recover America’s wildlife for future generations. Grateful to the broad, bipartisan coalition that has fought for this legislation, and I urge the Senate to act on this bill right away.”
RAWA is the largest, most significant investment in wildlife and habitat conservation in a generation. Thousands of businesses, organizations and Tribes support the legislation, including leading conservation and sportsmen’s groups. Funding provided by the legislation will support State Wildlife Action Plans and other wildlife management activities. Supporting these efforts will:
- Protect threatened and endangered species. At least 15% of RAWA funding must be spent on species that are listed under the Endangered Species Act or are considered threatened or endangered under Tribal law.
- Make wildlife conservation more effective and cost-efficient. RAWA funding will help states, territories, and Tribes put conservation measures in place for species before they become threatened or endangered, making species protection less difficult and less costly. RAWA will also provide much-needed funding for non-hunted species.
- Address climate change by building more resilient ecosystems. State Wildlife Action Plans often include habitat restoration projects (e.g., removing invasive species, fighting wildlife disease) that simultaneously benefit forest, watershed, and coastal health. These improvements help make ecosystems more resilient to severe weather events caused by climate change, including wildfires, hurricanes, and drought.
- Boost the outdoor economy. By supporting wildlife conservation, RAWA funds will boost our $887 billion outdoor economy, which already supports over 7.6 million jobs and is fueled by more than 100 million American wildlife enthusiasts, hunters, anglers, birders, and hikers. A portion of the funds will also support wildlife education.
Sen. Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) introduced companion legislation by the same name (S. 2372) in the Senate last July. That bill passed the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee by a bipartisan vote of 15-5 on April 7.
On House passage of RAWA, Sen. Heinrich said, “I’m so proud of the bipartisan leadership and widespread support that is moving the Recovering America’s Wildlife Act forward. Passing RAWA into law will mean our grandchildren will be able to experience the same rich and abundant American wildlife—from bumblebees to bison—that we have been so lucky to grow up with. I am grateful to Representative Debbie Dingell for her leadership in steering the Recovering America's Wildlife Act through the House of Representatives and I look forward to continuing to work with my partner in the Senate, Senator Roy Blunt, as we work to pass this historic legislation with broad support.”
Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), an original cosponsor of the Senate bill, said, “Protecting habitats and wildlife is not only important to states like Missouri – with some of the best hunting, fishing, and outdoor recreation in the country – it’s important to communities all across the nation. By encouraging states, territories, and Tribes to make significant contributions to voluntary conservation efforts, we can preserve our nation’s wildlife for future generations. I thank Congresswoman Dingell for her partnership in getting this legislation passed in the House and I look forward to continuing our efforts to get it to the president’s desk.”
Select Statements of Support from Organizations
“America’s wildlife are in crisis, with more than 12,000 species at heightened risk of extinction if fail to act. The bipartisan passage of the Recovering America’s Wildlife Act — the most important wildlife-conservation legislation in a half century — affirms that there is consensus across the political spectrum that we can, and we must, prevent extinctions from our backyards to the backcountry,” said Collin O’Mara, president and CEO of the National Wildlife Federation. “Representative Debbie Dingell has worked tirelessly on behalf of this bill for years, and this historic vote cements her legacy as a wildlife champion.”
“The Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation (CSF) extends our appreciation to Congressional Sportsmen’s Caucus Co-Chair Congresswoman Dingell for her unwavering commitment to sportsmen and women as demonstrated by her efforts to secure the House passage of her bill, Recovering America’s Wildlife Act,” said CSF President and CEO Jeff Crane. “This bipartisan bill will bolster the capacity of our nation’s wildlife managers to turn the corner on fish and wildlife conservation before more regulatory and burdensome measures are needed.”
“This positive vote in the House is a giant step forward for wildlife and a reaffirmation that conservation transcends party lines and politics,” said Tony Wasley, Director of the Nevada Department of Wildlife and President of the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies. “We sincerely thank Congresswoman Dingell for her outstanding leadership and thanks to all those supporting the advancement of the bill today on the floor. We look forward to working with everyone on both sides of the aisle and the Capitol to get this bill across the finish line as soon as possible so we can begin the work of proactive wildlife conservation and habitat protection at the scale that is needed.”
History of the Recovering America’s Wildlife Act
Rep. Dingell first introduced the bill in 2017 based on a recommendation from the Blue Ribbon Panel on Sustaining America’s Diverse Fish and Wildlife Resources, a group of national business and conservation leaders. The panel convened in 2015, co-chaired by Bass Pro Shops founder John L. Morris and former Wyoming governor Dave Freudenthal, to make recommendations for sustainably funding fish and wildlife conservation. In March 2016, the panel recommended creating a $1.3 billion dedicated funding stream to support implementation of State Wildlife Action Plans in every state, territory, and the District of Columbia.
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