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House passes Recovering America's Wildlife Act; bill awaits Senate action next

The bill’s spending would be guided by federally approved State Wildlife Action Plans, in which state wildlife agencies have identified 12,000 species in greatest need of conservation to date.

Meadowlark
The western meadowlark is among the at-risk species that would benefit from the Recovering America's Wildlife Act.
Contributed / North Dakota Game and Fish Department
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WASHINGTON – The U.S. House of Representatives on Tuesday passed the bipartisan Recovering America’s Wildlife Act by a 231-190 vote. Widely heralded as landmark legislation by conservation groups, RAWA would provide $1.39 billion for states, territories and tribes to support proactive habitat restoration of species of greatest conservation concern across the U.S.

The bill’s spending would be guided by federally approved State Wildlife Action Plans, in which state wildlife agencies have identified 12,000 species in greatest need of conservation to date.

RAWA was introduced in the House by Rep. Debbie Dingell, D-Michigan. Similar legislation awaits a vote in the Senate, where it has been introduced by Sens. Martin Heinrich, D-New Mexico, and Roy Blunt, R-Missouri.

During Tuesday's vote, Rep. Kelly Armstrong, R-N.D., voted against the legislation, while Minnesota's congressional delegation voted along party lines. Democratic Reps. Angie Craig, Betty McCollum, Ilhan Omar and Dean Phillips all voted in support of the bill, while Republican Reps. Tom Emmer, Michelle Fischbach and Pete Stauber voted against the legislation.

Here's what leaders from several conservation groups had to say Tuesday about the House's passage of the bill:

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Adam Putnam, Ducks Unlimited CEO

“RAWA follows a tried-and-true formula for proactive habitat conservation. We’ve seen other programs, like the Pittman-Robertson Act, utilize this very same conservation methodology to great success. The end result will be healthier habitat that greatly benefits waterfowl and other wildlife, as well as generations of sportsmen and women to come. We thank our friends in the House of Representatives for prioritizing this landmark conservation legislation.”

READ MORE OUTDOORS ISSUES COVERAGE:

John Gale, conservation director, Backcountry Hunters and Anglers

“Hunters and anglers have been vocal proponents of the need for targeted investments in species recovery. The Recovering America’s Wildlife Act is the product of decades of hard work and dedicated collaboration by a range of diverse stakeholders, including sportsmen and women, conservationists and business leaders. The moment to ensure this bill’s passage into law is upon us.

“State and tribal wildlife action plans have lacked critical funding for far too long. RAWA’s scope and potential benefits are unprecedented. This legislation will finally equip states and tribes to draw on a broad range of proven management practices, such as active restoration, invasive species removal, research, watershed management and collaborative management across state lines and tribal lands, to effect successful species recovery.”

Collin O’Mara, president and CEO, National Wildlife Federation

“The bipartisan Recovering America’s Wildlife Act is on the verge of becoming law. We urge the Senate to build upon the leadership of Senators Martin Heinrich, Roy Blunt, Thom Tillis and Tom Carper and take up this historic conservation bill as soon as possible. Inaction is the ally of extinction – and now it’s time to act.”

Becky Humphries, co-CEO, National Wild Turkey Federation

“Not since the passage of the Pittman-Robertson Act of 1937 and the Dingell-Johnson Act of 1950 has a single piece of legislation had such great potential for bolstering wildlife populations across the United States.

“Finally, after more than 20 years in the making, this historic legislation is one step closer to becoming a reality. Providing state and tribal agencies with much-needed funding and authority to focus on at-risk species in their own way allows them to balance their management activities with multiple priorities. With a steady decline in hunting participation over the past few decades, the traditional funding source for conservation isn’t adequate to meet the current need. This bill would help bring conservation funding into the 21st century.”

Tony A. Schoonen, chief executive officer, Boone and Crockett Club

“The Recovering America’s Wildlife Act (RAWA) is a critical piece of legislation that will provide substantial new funds for state and tribal fish and wildlife conservation efforts and has long been a priority for the hunting conservation committee. The Boone and Crockett Club has been at the forefront of wildlife policy for over 130 years and RAWA is an important investment in the future of conservation. We appreciate the vote today by the U.S. House of Representatives to pass this piece of legislation and look forward to working with the Senate to ensure passage of their companion bill this year.”

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Whit Fosburgh, president and CEO, Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership

“House passage of the Recovering America’s Wildlife Act is a defining victory for wildlife, habitat, outdoor recreation and our economy, because we know that heading off wildlife threats is more effective – and costs less – than taking emergency action. We applaud members of the House for this step today and urge the Senate to take up and pass this bill without delay.”

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