Statement from the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies Supporting the Introduction of the Recovering America's Wildlife Act in the Senate

March 31, 2023

The Association of Fish & Wildlife Agencies strongly supports the introduction of the Recovering America’s Wildlife Act (S.1149) in the U.S. Senate today. Senators Martin Heinrich (D-NM) and Thom Tillis (R-NC) introduced this bipartisan legislation that would provide critical funding to state fish and wildlife agencies and tribal fish and wildlife managers to effectively conserve our nation’s fish and wildlife for future generations. If passed, this bill will not only help the one-third of wildlife species in the United States currently at risk of becoming threatened or endangered, but also save taxpayer money by implementing proactive solutions to conserve those species in greatest need and prevent wildlife from becoming threatened or endangered.

“The need for the Recovering America’s Wildlife Act is indisputable and the urgency never greater,” said Curt Melcher, Director of the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife and President of the Association of Fish & Wildlife Agencies. “This is common sense, collaborative conservation and it is widely supported by a growing and diverse national coalition. We applaud Senators Heinrich and Tillis for their leadership and perseverance and stand ready to assist them in passing this bill for our fish and wildlife and for future generations.” 

This bipartisan legislation will dedicate $1.3 billion annually to state fish and wildlife agencies to implement their science-based 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. There continues to be broad bipartisan political support for passage of this bill, and we know from extensive polling and public opinion research that the public support is there too. 

“Over the past few years, the outdoors have proven to be a real uniting force in Congress. I’m proud of the momentum and widespread bipartisan support we built with Senator Blunt last Congress, and I look forward to doing the same with Senator Tillis as we work to move this bill across the finish line,” said Heinrich. “Without enough resources, state and Tribal wildlife agencies have been forced to pick and choose which species are worth saving. Instead of doing the proactive work that is necessary to maintain healthy wildlife populations on the front end, they have been forced into using reactive measures to rescue species after they are listed as threatened or endangered. We urgently need to change this paradigm and save thousands of species with a solution that matches the magnitude of the challenge. The Recovering America’s Wildlife Act offers us a constructive path forward. Passing RAWA into law will mean our grandchildren will be able to experience the same rich and abundant American wildlife—from bumblebees to bison—that we have been so lucky to grow up with.”

“Congress has a long history of being champions of conservation efforts in the U.S. to protect our unmatched landscape and wildlife population. Today, we are facing another crisis with too many fish and wildlife being placed on the endangered species list, negatively impacting businesses, farmers, and landowners. This situation must be avoided at all costs, and RAWA gives state and tribal wildlife commissions the tools needed to perform proactive, on-the-ground conservation to prevent threatened species from becoming endangered. This is the first step in long road to build consensus, and I look forward to partnering with Senator Heinrich and my colleagues in Congress to work on this legislation so we can avoid those situations and keep more fish and wildlife off the endangered species list, saving tens of millions of dollars in compliance costs for Americans, and protect our country’s rich natural resources,” said Tillis.

“The Recovering America’s Wildlife Act is a transformational bill that will give state fish and wildlife agencies the sustainable resources needed and will empower local stakeholders to work together with states to implement the wildlife action plans they’ve had in place for years,” said Ron Regan, Executive Director of the Association of Fish & Wildlife Agencies. “We know what needs to be done on the ground for wildlife—and it takes time and dedicated funding to achieve it, that is why this bill is so critically needed.”

These critical efforts are supported by the Alliance for America’s Fish & Wildlife, whose purpose is to create a 21st-century funding model for critically needed conservation of our nation’s most precious natural resources, our fish and wildlife. The Alliance represents the national coalition united behind passing this game-changing legislation, consisting of partners representing the outdoor recreation, retail and manufacturing sector, the energy and automotive industries, private landowners, tribal nations, educational institutions, sportsmen’s and other conservation organizations and state and federal fish and wildlife agencies.