Reps. Jeff Fortenberry (R-Neb.) and Debbie Dingell (D-Mich.) introduced the Recovering America’s Wildlife Act in the U.S. House of Representatives at a press conference in Washington D.C. on Friday, July 12.

This bipartisan legislation, if passed, would amend the Pittman-Robertson Wildlife Restoration Act to allow for the dedication of $1.3 billion in existing revenue annually, without any new taxes, from the U.S. Treasury to state fish and wildlife agencies to implement their State Wildlife Action Plans and an additional $97.5 million for tribal fish and wildlife managers to conserve fish and wildlife on tribal lands and waters.

State Wildlife Action Plans are mandated by Congress to outline proactive solutions to conserve those species in greatest need and prevent wildlife from becoming threatened or endangered. The Act would bring more money into Nebraska to invest in proactive, voluntary, incentive-based habitat conservation projects with private landowners by implementing the Nebraska Natural Legacy Project.

This funding would be used to improve habitat for rare species but also will benefit common species such as wild turkeys and deer, by enhancing grasslands, combating invasive species, restoring wetlands and improving woodlands. It also would support associated environmental education and create new opportunities for Nebraskans to enjoy wildlife and wild places.

Nationally, more than 12,000 species have been identified as species of greatest conservation need. In Nebraska, nearly 90 species are considered at-risk of extinction. The Act would support conservation actions that help prevent the need for listing more species as endangered and threatened and recover those that are currently listed.

The bill is supported by the Alliance for America’s Fish and Wildlife, which has expanded from a partnership represented by the outdoor recreation retail and manufacturing sector, the energy and automotive industries, private landowners, educational institutions, conservation organizations, sportsmen’s groups and state and federal fish and wildlife agencies.

Congressman Fortenberry offered the following statement after introducing the Recovering America’s Wildlife Act.

“Recovering America’s Wildlife Act (RAWA) is the most exciting public policy development in the conservation space in decades. It protects ecosystems. It enhances community. It supports recreation. And it moves us from regulation and litigation to collaboration and conservation,” Fortenberry said.

In August of 2017, the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission passed a resolution supporting the Alliance for America’s Fish and Wildlife’s efforts to diversify and expand funding for the thousands of plants and animals in Nebraska.

“We thank Congressman Fortenberry for continuing to champion this effort. This Act, if passed, will address the shortage of funds coming into our state to work with landowners and organizations to recover Nebraska’s at-risk species,” said Nebraska Game and Parks Director Jim Douglas. “Dedicated conservation funding will help ensure that Nebraskans can enjoy and benefit from healthy, thriving fish and wildlife now and into the future.”