300 Orlando Avenue
Nashville, Tennessee 37209
© 2023 Tennessee Wildlife Federation
Time is of the essence to contact your congressmen and senators and tell them Tennessee must have funding to manage species to keep them from becoming endangered. Be part of history in the making and urge Congress to seize this once-in-a-generation opportunity to protect Tennessee’s wildlife. Ask them to vote in support and pass the Recovering America’s Wildlife Act.
Currently, there isn’t steady funding to manage nongame species. Recovering America’s Wildlife Act will conserve Tennessee’s 1,400+ species in greatest need of conservation, before populations shrink and more drastic steps are needed. It’s a proactive approach that saves wildlife and saves money.
In Tennessee alone, more than 1,400 plant and animal species have been identified by the State Wildlife Action Plan of being in greatest need of conservation. More than 100 plants and animals are federally listed as threatened and endangered species. Currently, management of nongame species doesn’t have funding that is dedicated, adequate, or recurring. This makes it nearly impossible to plan and execute the long term projects needed to improve populations.
Tennessee species at risk include the Northern Bobwhite Quail, the Chickamauga Crayfish, the Virginia Big-eared Bat, and the Red Squirrel. As these and other nongame species decline, so do a countless number of interconnected species and habitats, including game species. And by keeping species from becoming threatened or endangered now, we avoid needing to take more drastic and expensive steps later to rescue them from extinction.
Funding proactive management has proven to be more effective and cost less. The House version of Recovering America’s Wildlife Act will provide $1.4 billion in dedicated, adequate, and recurring funding. Tennessee will receive an estimated $22.7 million each year. This enables meaningful, long-term gains to be made.
Passing Recovering America’s Wildlife Act would be a once-in-a-lifetime success for wildlife conservation. And people of all walks should join the Tennessee Alliance for America’s Fish and Wildlife to show their support.
Save wildlife | Save ourselves
Wildlife bill advancing in Congress
Public News Service
Recovering America’s Wildlife Act gets house hearing
Public News Service
Why is this bill necessary?
In their congressionally mandated State Wildlife Action Plan, state fish and wildlife agencies have identified 12,000 species in need of proactive efforts to prevent them from becoming endangered. Monarch butterflies, migratory songbirds, salamanders and turtles, and bats are among the species at-risk. Estimates of implementing two-thirds of each state’s plan is $1.4 billion each year. Current funding (about $70 million annually) is less than five percent of what is necessary to conserve the species most at-risk.
The magnitude of the solution must match the magnitude of the problem. The Recovering America’s Wildlife Act will fund conservation efforts for declining wildlife species before they need the emergency measures of the Endangered Species Act (ESA). Once a species reaches the point of needing ESA intervention it is harder and much more expensive to recover, and it is more challenging for business. Proactive efforts provide more regulatory certainty for businesses saving them substantial money and time.
Why should this money be going to states?
State fish and wildlife agencies have jurisdiction over the majority of wildlife within their borders. In some cases, states share management responsibilities with the federal government for endangered species and migratory birds. Because states are the first line of defense for wildlife conservation efforts, their ability to proactively manage species and their habitats is essential. States are also better equipped to identify and respond to the needs of wildlife in their state, and have a proven track record of wildlife management that reaches back nearly a century. Previously, states used dedicated funding from hunting and fishing licenses, as well as excise taxes on hunting and fishing equipment to restore now common species like white-tailed deer, turkey, elk, and striped bass that were on the brink of extinction in the early 1900s.
The Recovering America’s Wildlife Act will provide funding allotments to the states through the Wildlife Conservation and Restoration Program, an already established and effective funding mechanism. The money will only be used on needs identified by each state’s existing, congressionally-mandated State Wildlife Action Plan. Those plans are regularly updated to incorporate the latest science and public input, and are approved by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service ensuring program oversight.
What is the Wildlife Conservation Restoration Program?
The Wildlife Conservation Restoration Program is a permanently authorized but unfunded account under the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration Program. This program has an established infrastructure and grant management process. The program was created to support development and implementation of State Wildlife Action Plans to conserve species of greatest conservation need, particularly those without other funding sources. This program is broader in scope than the State and Tribal Wildlife Grants program, which is not permanently authorized.
Eligible activities under the Wildlife Conservation Restoration Program include research, monitoring, habitat restoration and enhancement, land protection, planning, wildlife conservation education, and wildlife-associated recreation (recreation is capped at 10 percent). The program uses an existing formula for apportionments based two-thirds on population and one-third on land area with caps so that no more than five percent or no less than one percent of the total in any year is apportioned to a single state. The states, territories, and the District of Columbia are eligible for funding if they have an approved State Wildlife Action Plan.
Will federal funds be matched with state or private funds?
As with existing Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration programs, states would be required to provide at least 25 percent in nonfederal matching funds. The source of match can be monetary or in-kind contributions originating from state or local governments or private entities such as conservation organizations, universities, businesses, private landowners, or volunteers. The Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies and the states are examining options to assist states who could face challenges securing sufficient match.
A dedicated fund requires an identified source of funds to provide an “offset” so there is not an increase in the overall budget. What is the offset?
There currently is no identified source of funds for an offset. As recently as last year, Congress provided an increase to the budget without identifying a source of funds. This program is essential for wildlife conservation and that political support will build, resulting in either Congress determining the best offset source or deciding it is not required. In addition, there will be savings in annual federal government spending for species listed under the Endangered Species Act due to the proactive conservation efforts the states will be able to implement.
Can this bill pass?
Yes! With your support. Both Republicans and Democrats wish to address the need for our nation to have a proactive effort to prevent wildlife from becoming endangered. The strong and diverse coalition, including Blue Ribbon Panel on Sustaining America’s Diverse Fish and Wildlife Resources, reflects how this bill has support from sportsmen, birders, gardeners, and the businesses dependent on our nation’s lands and waters. The cost effective, state based approach is good for wildlife, good for taxpayers, and good for business.
Where did this idea come from?
Recovering America’s Wildlife Act was initiated the Blue Ribbon Panel on Sustaining America’s Diverse Fish and Wildlife Resources. Their recommendations can be seen in the panel’s final report, “The Future of America’s Fish and Wildlife.”
Additional Media Coverage
Recovering America’s Wildlife Act could prove historic
Recovering America’s Wildlife Reintroduced in Congress
American Fisheries Society
Letter Submitted to Congress Supporting Biodiversity
American Fisheries Society
Act Would Support Conservation Education
Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies
As hunting declines, efforts grow to broaden the funding base for wildlife conservation
Wildlife Act Could Stop Asian carp
The Commercial Appeal
Recovering America’s Wildlife Act Introduced
WTVC – News Channel 9
1 in 3 Species in U.S. at Risk of Extinction
Public News Service
Keep wildlife off Endangered List