Bipartisan bill would make a significant investment in wildlife and habitat conservation in a generation
Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senators Susan Collins and Angus King co-sponsored the Recovering America’s Wildlife Act (RAWA) of 2021, a bipartisan bill that would invest in proactive, on-the-ground conservation work led by states, territories, and tribal nations to support the long-term health of fish and wildlife habitat all across America.
“The federal government plays a critical role in protecting threatened and endangered species.” said Senators Collins and King in a joint statement. “This legislation provides dedicated funding which will help recover endangered species in Maine, like the New England Cottontail, and their habitats. We will continue to support policies that preserve Maine’s wildlife for both current and future generations.”
“We are at a critical time concerning the conservation of wildlife in Maine, and the Recovering America’s Wildlife Act will allow us not only to protect threatened and endangered species, but also help other species from facing the same fate. The Recovering America’s Wildlife Act is a pioneering bill whose impact will be appreciated by all who enjoy the Maine outdoors,” said Judy Camuso, Commissioner of the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife. “Senators Collins and King are to be commended for their support of this landmark legislation.”
“With over a third of America’s fish and wildlife species at risk of extinction, there has never been a more important time for this bill. The Recovering America's Wildlife Act would deliver the most significant investment in America’s wildlife in decades, putting resources where they can be most effective,” said Kate Dempsey, State Director for The Nature Conservancy in Maine.
The recovery work funded by RAWA will be guided by the wildlife conservation strategies and plans developed by states, territories, and tribes. These science-based strategies would restore populations of species with the greatest conservation need. State, territorial, and tribal wildlife agencies have identified more than 12,000 species in need of conservation assistance. Existing federal funding support is severely insufficient and fails to provide the resources required to meet all of these needs.
Maine would receive roughly $11.4 million per year in funding through Recovering America’s Wildlife Act. The bill also requires 25% non-federal matching funds – approximately $3.8 million – bringing the total annual investment in Maine’s fish and wildlife to roughly $15.2 million. This represents an opportunity to protect Maine’s 378 species of greatest conservation need, as well as their habitats, on a level that has never been possible.
The RAWA of 2021 would:
· Fund conservation efforts for more than 12,000 species of wildlife and plants in need of assistance by providing $1.3 billion in dedicated annual funding for proactive, on-the-ground efforts across the country.
· Provide Tribal nations $97.5 million annually to fund proactive wildlife conservation efforts on roughly 140 million acres of land.
· Ensure wildlife recovery efforts will be guided by the Congressionally-mandated State Wildlife Action Plans, which identify specific strategies to restore the populations of species of greatest conservation need.
· Accelerate the recovery of 1,600 U.S. species already listed as threatened or endangered under the Endangered Species Act.
· Include improvements to ensure funds are appropriately targeted to the areas of greatest need and facilitate additional investments in protecting at-risk plant species.
· Directs fees and penalties assessed for environmental violations to help fund RAWA, using fee and penalty amounts that aren’t already targeted for existing environmental funds.
The RAWA of 2021 is supported by a wide array of organizations representing Fish and Wildlife Agencies, tribes, sportsmen, environmental and conservation advocates, and members of the outdoor recreation industry.
In addition to Senators Collins and King, the bill was co-sponsored by Senators Martin Heinrich (D-NM), Roy Blunt (R-MO), Thom Tillis (R-NC), John Boozman (R-AR), Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Richard Burr (R-NC), Jerry Moran (R-KS), Rob Portman (R-OH), Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), Marco Rubio (R-FL), Bob Casey (D-PA), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Ben Lujan (D-NM), Jackie Rosen (D-NV), Alex Padilla (D-CA), Roger Marshall (R-KS), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ), Roger Wicker (R-MS), Kevin Cramer (R-ND), Brian Schatz (D-HI), Mark Kelly (D-AZ), Tommy Tuberville (R-AL), Chris Coons (D-DE), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Jon Tester (D-MT), and Deb Fischer (R-NE).