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House Dems & Reps Unite to Pass Recovering America’s Wildlife Act



Some sandhill cranes are about to find out how the Whooping Crane got its name.

Some encouraging news today from the U.S. House of Representatives …

Whether or not you think this legislation we’re discussing today is the right thing for America’s wildlife conservation efforts, the word “bipartisan” has become rare in our discourse of late, and today’s biggest news is possibly the fact that we’re getting to deploy it. Last week, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the bipartisan Recovering America’s Wildlife Act (RAWA). A “sister” bill is awaiting a Senate vote.

How are they billing the law? According to Ducks Unlimited, a pro-hunting citizen organization dedicated to preserving waterfowl habitat, it’s “landmark legislation [that] will 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-MI). Although only 16 Republicans supported the measure, similar legislation awaits a vote in the Senate. That legislation has two sponsors, one of whom is Republican: Sens. Martin Heinrich (D-NM) and Roy Blunt (R-MO). It’s going to be important to maintain that bipartisanship if the bill is to pass. As it currently stands, the bill doesn’t include a clear source of funding.

“RAWA follows a tried-and-true formula for proactive habitat conservation,” said DU CEO Adam Putnam. “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.”

DU’s Chief Operating Officer, Nick Wiley, previously served as Executive Director of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission as well as President of the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies (AFWA). In 2015, AFWA created the Blue Ribbon Panel on Sustaining America’s Diverse Fish and Wildlife Resources. The 28-member panel, co-chaired by Bass Pro Shops CEO Johnny Morris and former Wyoming Governor Dave Freudenthal, identified the need for a more consistent, dedicated mechanism to fund state fish and wildlife agencies and recommended the creation of RAWA.

Happy as we are to see folks like Morris and Freudenthal involved in this legislation–we feel it’s a decent indication of good faith–not everyone thinks that RAWA is the way to go. What do you think? Sound off in the comments!

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