‘Most important wildlife conservation bill in half a century’ ready for House and Senate votes – The Gilmer Mirror
The heavily bipartisan Recovering America’s Wildlife Act is no longer in committee and is ready for votes in the US Senate and US House of Representatives. This landmark wildlife conservation bill would direct nearly $1.4 billion a year to state and tribal wildlife agencies to protect thousands of endangered species.
“This common-sense legislation will allow us to get ahead of wildlife decline by intervening early to help wildlife at risk with collaborative, voluntary action,” said John Shepperd of the Texas Foundation for Conservation, speaking on behalf of the community. Texas Alliance for America’s Fish and Wildlife. “Solving the wildlife crisis in the United States with locally-led conservation efforts is a bipartisan solution that’s good for wildlife, good for business, and good for Texas.”
The Recovering America’s Wildlife Act would make more than $50 million a year available for fish and wildlife conservation in Texas, with no new tax. The bill would help our state’s more than 1,200 species in greatest need of conservation from becoming endangered, including many freshwater fish, pollinators, songbirds and very state icons. favorites such as the Texas Horned Lizard, Bobwhite Quail and Guadalupe Bass.
State fish and wildlife agencies are currently funded at less than 5% of what is needed to implement their congressionally mandated state wildlife action plans. These plans are roadmaps designed to help stabilize at-risk wildlife populations before they become endangered. If passed, the Texas Department of Parks and Wildlife will send grant funds throughout Texas to conservation organizations, municipalities, researchers, landowners, zoos and others to fund urgent conservation projects.
Janice Bezanson of the Texas Conservation Alliance notes that the bill could be especially beneficial for a private land state like Texas. “This funding could help expand cost-sharing programs and provide more technical advice to private landowners who want to conduct wildlife studies or habitat restoration on their property, to benefit vulnerable species.”
Through new conservation projects, the legislation is expected to create thousands of new “plug and play” jobs for wildlife management, tree planting, river restoration and wildlife reintroduction. It would also connect more Texans and children to outdoor recreation, nature education, and wildlife viewing opportunities.
Bezanson explains that “nature tourism is huge in Texas. People from all over the world travel here to see iconic landscapes and wildlife such as migratory birds. Unfortunately, much of the fish and wildlife that our outdoor recreation economy depends on is in decline. We are also losing animals essential to agriculture, such as bees that pollinate our crops and bats that help control insect pests.
The bill has 32 cosponsors in the Senate — split evenly between Republicans and Democrats — and more than 170 cosponsors in the House.
“Recovering America’s Wildlife Act is not a victory for one side or the other, it’s a victory for wildlife and all Texans,” Bezanson said. “This is an economical and consequential bill that every member of the Texas congressional delegation should vote for.”
The bill was defeated by the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee on April 7 with a 15-5 bipartisan vote. It walked out of the House Natural Resources Committee in January with a 29-to-vote. 15. The broad support on both sides of the aisle suggests that the bill has a good chance of passing both houses of Congress when it comes to a vote.
A recent national Data for Progress poll of 1,199 likely voters found 87% supported the bill, with just 7% opposed. The bill is a reminder that Americans of all walks of life care about our natural heritage and support conservation for current and future generations.
All Texans can be a voice for wildlife by asking their U.S. House Representative and U.S. Senators to vote YES for Recovering America’s Wildlife Act when it comes to a vote.