Recovering America’s Wildlife Act: Bill Would Boost Bird Funding
By Gustave Axelson
June 13, 2018
A bipartisan bill introduced in the House of Representatives offers a new funding stream for state wildlife programs—including efforts to help hundreds of bird species in decline that need urgent conservation action. [Update: the Senate version of this bill was introduced to the Senate on July 18, 2018.]
Dubbed the “Recovering America’s Wildlife Act” (or HR 4647), the bill proposed by Representatives Jeff Fortenberry of Nebraska and Debbie Dingell of Michigan would dedicate $1.3 billion of federal energy revenues annually toward conservation in all 50 states and five territories.
Game species in the U.S. currently benefit from two revenue streams that come from hunting—the Pittman–Robertson excise tax on sporting arms and ammunition and the federal Duck Stamp program. RAWA would create the first dedicated funding stream for nongame wildlife. Without tapping into taxpayer money, RAWA funds would access a fraction of the revenues the government receives from energy and mineral leases on federal lands and waters.
The act aims to help stem population declines for more than 12,000 species of fish and wildlife, including more than 800 birds, in an effort to keep them off the endangered species list. The idea for a new conservation funding stream tied to federal energy revenues came from a national panel of business and conservation leaders chaired by Bass Pro Shops founder John L. Morris and former Wyoming governor Dave Freudenthal. (Cornell Lab of Ornithology director John Fitzpatrick also participated in the panel, along with executives from the National Wildlife Federation, Ducks Unlimited, Audubon, Shell Oil Company, Hess Corporation, and Toyota.)
As of press time, the bill had received strong bipartisan support from House representatives, with 26 Republicans and 31 Democrats signing on to cosponsor HR 4647. Learn more about the bill.