The Recovering America’s Wildlife Act (RAWA) cleared the U.S. Senate Environment and Public Works Committee on a 15-5 vote Thursday.
This bill would provide $1.4 billion annually to states and tribes to support at-risk species in efforts to restore wildlife and address biodiversity loss. The funding would be used for projects identified in Species of Greatest Conservation Need (SGCN), and at least 15 percent of the money would be dedicated to threatened and endangered species recovery.
RAWA was supported by numerous conservation and wildlife organizations, namely, the Wildlife Society, the National Wildlife Federation, the Wildlife Management Institute, Native American Fish and Wildlife Society, the Nature Conservancy, and others.
Pittman-Robertson Wildlife Restoration Act
This will amend the Pittman-Robertson Wildlife Restoration Act to make supplemental funds available for management of fish and wildlife species of greatest conservation need as determined by state fish and wildlife agencies, and for other purposes. The Federal Aid in Wildlife Restoration Act (16 U.S.C. §§669 et seq.), enacted in 1937, provides funding for states and territories to support wildlife restoration, conservation, and hunter education and safety programs.
The act was amended in 1970 to include funding for hunter-education programs and for the development and operation of public target ranges. Funds for the act come from an 11 percent federal excise tax on sporting arms, ammunition, and archery equipment, and a 10 percent tax on handguns. Half of the excise tax on handguns and archery equipment is used for hunter education and target ranges. The state is responsible for 25 percent of the costs.
Dingell-Johnson Sport Fish Restoration Act
The bill complements the Dingell-Johnson Sport Fish Restoration Act, passed by the federal legislature in 1950, and will provide funding to state fish and wildlife agencies to support recreational fishing. Wildlife-management agencies across the country use the money collected through the Dingell-Johnson Act to fund hatcheries, habitat conservation, public-lands access, recreational-facilities maintenance, and other conservation programs such as angler-education services. Funds for the act come from excise tax on rods, reels, creels, fishing lures, and equipment.
What RAWA Means to State and Tribal Wildlife Agencies and Partners
This legislation would:
- Provide $1.3 billion in dedicated funding annually for the implementation of state fish and wildlife agencies’ wildlife action plans.
- Provide $97.5 million in dedicated funding annually for tribal agencies to work on at-risk species recovery.
- Allot 10 percent of dedicated annual funds toward the implementation of a competitive grants program aimed at fostering regional cooperation among states.
- Leverage funds from state agencies, universities, and non-governmental organizations to boost the power of federal conservation spending.
- Provide greater regulatory certainty for industry and private partners by conserving species and avoiding the need to list them under the Endangered Species Act.
- Empower wildlife professionals to hold the nation’s wildlife in the public trust for generations to come by providing state and tribal agencies with the flexibility to conserve populations in an effective and cost-effective manner. (The Wildlife Society)
Read Reversing America’s Wildlife Crisis by the National Wildlife Federation, the American Fisheries Society, and The Wildlife Society.
Transmittal photo courtesy of Jack Bartholmai.