Skip to Content

Press Release

Landmark Wildlife Habitat Bill Implements Long-Term Conservation Solutions

  • WOW Subcommittee

Today, House Committee on Natural Resources Chairman Bruce Westerman (R-Ark.) rolled out the America's Wildlife Habitat Conservation Act (AWHCA). Westerman issued the following statement in response:

“The America's Wildlife Habitat Conservation Act will empower states and local communities to use proven practices to restore and maintain habitat, which will benefit species in their state’s wildlife action plans. Good habitat management is integral to wildlife management and without it, species have little chance of maintaining sustainable populations and surviving. By strengthening relationships between states, tribes, private landowners and the federal government, we can empower them to implement proactive habitat conservation that will make a difference where it counts: on the ground across our abundant outdoors. I’d like to thank my colleagues who have supported this logical and forward-thinking legislation, and I look forward to working with them and members across the aisle to move this commonsense, financially responsible bill through the legislative process and ultimately into law."


The goal of the Endangered Species Act (ESA) has always been to recover listed species to the point they no longer need protection. This legislation proposes a series of policy reforms that are laser-focused on recovery. These include requiring the federal government to establish objective, incremental recovery goals for listed species. Once those goals are established, the legislation builds incentives by providing incremental relief from ESA regulations as recovery goals are met. Over time, this creates an off-ramp toward state management of at-risk and listed species after recovery goals are met and in preparation for the delisting of the species. 

The AWHCA will invest $320 million annually in grant funding to states for wildlife habitat conservation, providing additional resources for state governments to enact their congressionally mandated state wildlife action plans. Specifically, the bill would fund habitat restoration and forest management projects, and promote collaboration with private partners to conserve habitat for at-risk and listed species. The AWHCA will also provide $20 million to fund habitat restoration projects and forest management on tribal lands. All spending in the bill is offset and will sunset after five fiscal years.

The AWHCA would also empower states by giving them the opportunity to develop recovery strategies for species that are listed as threatened or are candidates to be listed. These recovery strategies give states an active role in developing regulations for threatened and candidate species and could become the regulation that governs the management of these species. 

Other provisions will give congressional backing to private, voluntary conservation efforts and provide a solution to the detrimental Cottonwood vs. U.S. Forest Service 9th Circuit Court decision. The bill authorizes Good Neighbor Authority for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, allowing the agency to partner with states, tribes and counties to better manage their lands, placing it on par with other federal land management agencies.

To watch the press conference, click here, and for more information on the AWHCA hearing scheduled for next week, click here.