The Recovering America’s Wildlife Act, a bill introduced December 14 in Congress, will deliver a modern enhancement in how fish and wildlife conservation is funded before species become more rare and costly to protect – if it becomes law.
The bill (HR4647) would redirect $1.3 billion annually in existing royalties from development of energy and mineral resources on federal lands and waters to be dedicated to the Wildlife Conservation Restoration Program, an authorized sub-account within the long-established Pittman-Robertson Wildlife Restoration Program.
Wildlife conservation has been primarily funded through state fishing, hunting and trapping license fees along with Pittman-Robertson and Dingell-Johnson excise taxes on hunting and fishing equipment. For over 75-years, those programs, under the direction of the Idaho Fish and Game Commission, have been successful in preserving, protecting, perpetuating and managing many of Idaho’s wildlife populations.
Not since the enactment of the Pittman-Robertson and Dingell-Johnson acts has there been an opportunity to pass new legislation of such importance to protecting what is every American’s birthright – our great natural heritage. The Recovering America’s Wildlife Act would be one of the most important pieces of conservation legislation in a generation.
Additional funding for proactive strategies that complement existing programs would help the Idaho Fish and Game Commission conserve and manage the full array of Idaho’s fish and wildlife.
Guided by language in the Recovering America’s Wildlife Act legislation, Idaho Fish and Game would use its share of funds to more effectively implement Idaho’s State Wildlife Action Plan – the guiding document that provides the strategic direction to implement proactive, non-regulatory, action-based solutions to conserve fish and wildlife with an emphasis on more than 200 species of greatest conservation need. Species in the Plan familiar to Idahoans include the greater sage-grouse, wolverine and wild steelhead.
“Our nation’s fish and wildlife are among its most valuable resources along with clean air, water, healthy forests and agricultural lands that support all of us,” stated Virgil Moore, director of Idaho Fish and Game and president of the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies. “Today we find ourselves at a critical crossroads facing an historic challenge that could alter our children’s and grandchildren’s opportunities to enjoy these resources. By investing in our State Wildlife Action Plans, which serve as blueprints for restoring and managing the most sensitive and imperiled species within our state borders, we will be ensuring future generations can enjoy our rich wildlife heritage.”
Adequate, dedicated funding to implement Idaho’s State Wildlife Action Plan will ensure a safer environment for Idaho’s agriculture, timber and other important industries by proactively funding programs that bolster key species, thereby reducing or eliminating the need for federal protection under the Endangered Species Act.
Passage of the Recovering America’s Wildlife Act is supported by the Alliance for America’s Fish and Wildlife, whose purpose is to create a 21st century funding model for critically needed conservation of our nation’s most precious natural resources, our fish and wildlife.
This effort was built upon a strong partnership created by the Blue Ribbon Panel on Sustaining America’s Diverse Fish and Wildlife Resources, consisting of members representing the outdoor recreation, retail and manufacturing sector, the energy and automotive industries, private landowners, educational institutions, conservation organizations, sportsmen’s groups and state and federal fish and wildlife agencies.