HARRISBURG, Pa (April 22) — Appropriately introduced in Congress on Earth Day, the Recovering America’s Wildlife Act could rank among the most meaningful initiatives for fish and wildlife in history, the Pennsylvania Game Commission and Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission announced today.
The bipartisan legislation introduced by U.S. Reps. Debbie Dingell (D-Mich.) and Jeff Fortenberry (R-Neb.) would dedicate $1.3 billion annually to state fish and wildlife agencies, and $97.5 million to tribal fish and wildlife managers, enacting a 20th Century funding solution to address increasing declines of the nation’s fish and wildlife and their natural habitats. It’s estimated one-third of the nation’s fish and wildlife are vulnerable or at-risk.
Recovering America’s Wildlife Act would fund the implementation of congressionally mandated State Wildlife Action Plans, which outline specific, science-based conservation actions necessary to recover and sustain healthy fish and wildlife populations.
It’s a proactive approach grounded in the philosophy “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” By taking measures to restore species before they are on the brink of extinction, more-costly emergency action can be avoided. But, more importantly, healthy fish and wildlife populations can be ensured.
“Recovering America’s Wildlife Act is a common-sense approach to solving a worsening problem by extending more help to fish and wildlife species in greatest need of conservation, providing them a chance to stem losses before sinking to critical levels where emergency support is necessary,” said Pennsylvania Game Commission Executive Director Bryan Burhans. “It’s landmark legislation that, if passed, will yield countless benefits to wildlife everywhere and every Pennsylvanian who enjoys the outdoors.”
The Fish and Boat Commission also recognizes the almost unprecedented value and expanded coverage this legislation could provide Pennsylvania’s fish and wildlife conservation.
“The state fish and wildlife agencies across the nation greatly appreciate the bipartisan recognition by Congress that our nation’s fish and wildlife are in peril and need help and attention,” said Fish and Boat Commission Executive Director Tim Schaeffer. “While additional funding will be directed towards fish and wildlife species of greatest conservation need, the conservation efforts that will be applied by the states will benefit all species and enhance fish and wildlife populations and communities for the benefit of all people who enjoy angling, hunting and wildlife-associated recreation.”
“The Recovering America’s Wildlife Act legislation not only provides the states the requisite funding to continue the job of fish and wildlife management and conservation,” noted Schaeffer, “but also provides the necessary security to ensure that our children and grandchildren can enjoy all of the species that rely on clean water and healthy habitats.”
Pennsylvania currently receives about $1.5 million in federal State Wildlife Grant funds annually to manage the state’s 664 fish and wildlife species of greatest conservation need and their associated habitats to work toward goals in the State Wildlife Action Plan.
Under the Recovering America’s Wildlife Act, Pennsylvania would receive dedicated annual federal fish and wildlife conservation funding that could exceed $20 million to better address the conservation actions for these species.
The Recovering America’s Wildlife Act is championed by the Blue Ribbon Panel on Sustaining America’s Diverse Fish & Wildlife Resources, a think-tank of 26 energy, business and conservation leaders assembled in 2014 by the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies, which serves North America’s state and provincial wildlife management agencies.
The Game Commission and Fish and Boat Commission are working closely with state and national conservation partners to bring the Recovering America’s Wildlife Act to a vote in Washington, D.C. The need for long-term dedicated funding is obvious, and the agencies are urging all Pennsylvania voters and conservationists to let legislators know how important the Recovering America’s Wildlife Act is to them and Pennsylvania.
Travis Lau, Pennsylvania Game Commission
Mike Parker, Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission