Bill to Protect Wildlife to Get Vote in D.C.

chuckwalla

CARSON CITY, Nev. -- A bipartisan bill designed to proactively manage wildlife species to keep them off the endangered list is pending when Congress reconvenes next week.

The Recovering America's Wildlife Act would dedicate $1.4 billion a year toward voluntary conservation efforts for at-risk wildlife species. The money would be spent by the Nevada Department of Wildlife and its counterparts in other states to implement their wildlife action plans

Arizona Wildlife Federation president Brad Powell said the bill is designed to protect about 12,000 species in need of conservation attention.

"It will bring an infusion of money to the state," he said. "It'll be used on those species that are being imperiled. Many of them show up on the endangered species list and cost billions of dollars once that occurs."

The act, known as HR 3742, was passed out of the House Natural Resources Committee last week and was sent to the full House of Representatives for action. Its cosponsors include two Nevada representatives, Republican Mark Amodei and Democrat Steven Horsford.

The bill also would allocate about $100 million each year for tribal wildlife conservation efforts. Nevada wildlife officials have identified 256 species that need conservation assistance, including the chuckwalla and the Gila monster. Powell said the millions of dollars each state would receive yearly is an investment that would prevent much higher expenses later.

"We've all seen what happened with spotted owls and other species across the country where many activities were imperiled -- whether they be tourism or others -- because the wildlife species in those areas weren't managed well enough and they ultimately had to be under federal protection," he said.

In Powell's opinion, the act would be the most significant investment in wildlife conservation in decades. The money would fund such management efforts as conserving and restoring habitats, fighting invasive species, reintroducing native species and tackling emerging diseases. He said current federal funding is less than 5% of what's needed to conserve the listed species.

The text of HR 3742 is online at congress.gov.

wildlife, endangered species

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