HARRISBURG, Pa. – The Pennsylvania Game Commission and Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission see last month’s introduction of the Recovering America’s Wildlife Act in the U.S. Senate as legislation that could provide more care for Pennsylvania’s and the nation’s fish and wildlife with the greatest conservation needs.
The bipartisan legislation (S.3223), introduced by Senators James Risch (R-Idaho), Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) and Heidi Heitkamp (D- N.D.), would authorize annual appropriations by Congress to states to conserve troubled fish and wildlife.
The Senate bill complements House legislation (H.R. 4647), introduced last December by Jeff Fortenberry (R-Neb.) and Debbie Dingell (D-Mich.), which has gained strong, bipartisan co-sponsorship for its innovative approach to solving America’s ongoing and deepening wildlife crisis. Currently, over 80 members have co-sponsored the House bill, including six from Pennsylvania.
Both bills would draw from $1.3 billion in existing revenue from the development of energy and mineral resources on federal lands and waters from more than $10 billion in annual revenues from traditional and renewable energy development and mineral development on federal lands and waters. The main difference between the two bills is that H.R. 4647 provides mandatory permanent funding language, while S. 3223 requires annual appropriations by Congress to allocate funding to the states.
Patterned after the Conservation and Reinvestment Act of 2000, which narrowly failed to clear Congress, the Recovering America’s Wildlife Act proposes to provide sufficient funding to states to proactively conserve imperiled species identified in State Wildlife Action Plans. It is championed by the Blue-Ribbon Panel on Sustaining America’s Diverse Fish & Wildlife Resources, a think-tank of 26 energy, business and conservation leaders assembled in 2014 by the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies, which serves North America’s state and provincial wildlife management agencies.