by Phil Phillips - Thursday, June 16, 2022
The U.S. House made conservation news late Tuesday following passage of the Recovering America’s Wildlife Act (RAWA)—H.R. 2773—by a vote of 231-190. If passed by the Senate, it will set aside $1.4 billion annually for proactive, collaborative, non-regulatory conservation projects in every state and territory and on tribal lands and waters. That figure accounts for $1.3 billion annually for state fish and wildlife agencies to implement science-based wildlife action plans and another $97.5 million for tribal fish and wildlife managers to conserve fish and wildlife on tribal lands and waters.
As detailed on the RAWA website, with one-third of all U.S. wildlife species imperiled or vulnerable and nearly 1 million species worldwide at risk of extinction, RAWA’s intent is to act before species need even more costly, restrictive “emergency room” measures required by the Endangered Species Act while aiding the recovery of those already threatened or endangered.
Passage was nearly seven years in the making following the formation of the conservation coalition Sustaining America’s Diverse Fish and Wildlife Resources in 2015 consisting of representatives from the outdoor, energy and automotive industries, private landowners, sportsmen and conservation groups, and state and federal fish and wildlife agencies to address aiding at-risk fish and wildlife species. With many saying current funding levels fall far short of what is needed, the coalition developed the RAWA framework, which was reintroduced in the House in 2021 with the lofty goal of aiding species without increasing Americans’ taxes.
The decline of wildlife species and their habitats also hinders Americans’ quality of life and outdoor heritage. As reported by the Alliance for America’s Fish and Wildlife, which partnered with the coalition, and the Outdoor Industry Association, it also impacts the nation’s outdoor recreation economy, which contributes $887 billion to our national economy annually, creates 7.6 million direct jobs and generates $124.5 billion in federal, state and local tax revenue ($65.3 billion in federal and $59.2 billion in state and local tax revenue).
Please check back with this NRA Hunters’ Leadership Forum website for updates on the status of RAWA as lawmakers seek out on-the-ground solutions to address the challenges to the future of wildlife conservation.
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