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Message from the Bureau Chief

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Support the Bipartisan Recovering America’s Wildlife Act

The Act is good for wildlife, good for taxpayers, and good for business

We sportsmen and women know of the legacy that those before us created through adoption of the Pittman-Robertson Act (Federal Aid in Wildlife Restoration Program) in 1937, the Dingell-Johnson Act (Federal Aid in Sport Fish Restoration) in 1950, and the Wallop-Breaux Sport Fish and Boating Safety Act in 1984. Through their efforts, our purchase of hunting and fishing equipment has provided permanent dedicated funding to state fish and wildlife agencies for the management of species that are hunted and fished. That legacy has led to astounding conservation successes; the resurgence in white-tailed deer, wild turkeys, and diverse populations of waterfowl. However, many of America’s wildlife species remain at risk, including such Connecticut species as the wood turtle and American oystercatcher. The financial resources needed to protect and recover these species simply do not exist. That is why the bipartisan Recovering America’s Wildlife Act (RAWA) is so important — RAWA will dedicate $1.3 billion annually to state-led conservation efforts to prevent at-risk wildlife from becoming endangered. If passed, this would be the most significant new investment in wildlife conservation in decades. Current funding (about $70 million/year nationwide) is less than five percent of what is needed to conserve the species most at-risk. The magnitude of the solution must match the magnitude of the problem.

Hunters, trappers, and anglers have proven that dedicated financial resources lead to successful conservation. Such funding empowers states to prioritize species and efforts, build critical partnerships, and staff resources to restore these and many other species and their habitats. Fish, wildlife, and habitat restoration requires long-term conservation investment. Fluctuations in annual funding jeopardize success and lead to species recovery failure. RAWA completes the outstanding needs of the states and provides a long-standing commitment to fully fund the conservation of all fish and wildlife across the country.

The passage of RAWA would also be better for hunters and anglers. Currently, 80% of the funding for state fish and wildlife agencies comes from federal excise taxes on hunting and fishing gear, and the fees paid for state hunting and fishing licenses and permits. This funding model has worked for decades but has reached its limit. RAWA would expand the funding source to all Americans and modernize conservation funding for the nation. Game species would also benefit from additional conservation of priority habitats, and several Species of Greatest Conservation Need are game species.

Who supports the Recovering America’s Wildlife Act?

In 2014, the Association of Fish & Wildlife Agencies convened a Blue Ribbon Panel on Sustaining America’s Diverse Fish & Wildlife Resources, consisting of members representing the outdoor recreation, retail, and manufacturing sector, the energy and automotive industries, private landowners, educational institutions, sportsmen’s and other conservation groups, and state and federal fish and wildlife agencies. The panel recommended a modernized method of fish and wildlife conservation funding that formed the backbone of the Recovering America’s Wildlife Act. Since then, a national campaign formed from the strong partnership created by this Panel and expanded to include additional industries and sportsman and conservation organizations. Together, the coalition behind the legislation represents billions of dollars of economic impact, thousands of non-exportable jobs, and tens of millions of members and consumers across the country, all who rely on healthy fish and wildlife populations.

Bipartisan support in the U.S. House of Representatives continues to grow and momentum on RAWA is building as it moves through the various committees.

What You Can Do

You can learn more about the Recovering America’s Wildlife Act on the DEEP website at www.ct.gov/deep/AllianceforFishandWildlife. Most importantly, visit ournatureusa.com and take a few minutes to send a letter to your member of Congress in support of the Recovering America’s Wildlife Act. Follow the progress of RAWA on social media using the hashtag #RestoreWildlife.

Rick Jacobson

Chief, Bureau of Natural Resources