Recovering America’s Wildlife Act legislation (H.R. 4647) was recently introduced into the U.S. House of Representatives.
The bill is based on recommendations of the Blue Ribbon Panel for Conserving America’s Wildlife.
The Recovering America’s Wildlife Act establishes a 21st Century, proactive funding model for the conservation of fish and wildlife. It provides $1.3 billion per year for the state wildlife agencies to do proactive, non-regulatory fish and wildlife conservation. It provides for a modern enhancement in how we finance the full array of diverse fish and wildlife conservation for current and future generations before they become more rare and costly to protect. States would be responsible for a 25% non-federal match ($440 million) that would spur voluntary, incentive-based and on-the-ground partnerships to implement the needed proactive conservation work by state fish and wildlife agencies.
The bill will redirect $1.3 billion in existing revenues annually from the development of energy and mineral resources on federal lands and waters to be dedicated to the Wildlife Conservation Restoration Program, an authorized sub account under the Pittman-Robertson Wildlife Restoration Program, to conserve the full array of fish and wildlife. Funds would come from the federal share of the revenues, and nothing in the bill would alter the timing, method or process for the collection of revenues. Funds would be apportioned annually to the state fish and wildlife agencies based on a formula of 50% proportion of land area and 50% proportion of population.
States would use these funds to effectively implement their congressionally required State Wildlife Action Plans (SWAP) – these are proactive, comprehensive wildlife conservation strategies unique to each state and developed with participation from the public which examine the health of and recommend actions to conserve fish, wildlife and vital habitats. States identify species of greatest conservation need and prioritize species, habitats, state-led projects and expenditures under the program. States could also use these funds on wildlife conservation education and up 10% of the funds on wildlife-associated recreation. If a state chooses, they may also use funds to help recover federally listed species under the Endangered Species Act of 1973.
States may use funds to manage, control and prevent invasive species and nuisance species as well as other threats to state species of greatest conservation need; on private lands and waters without any requirement for access by the public; and allow private land easements to be eligible for non-federal match. It clarifies in current law that academic institutions and Tribes may partner with the states on the implementation of projects and provides some technical corrections to the current statute.