Some of America’s most iconic images showcase our nation’s natural habitats and the diverse fish and wildlife populations that call them home. Unfortunately, these iconic images may become little more than a nostalgic look back in time, with many of America’s most recognized wildlife species reaching a stage of crisis.
Our natural world provides innumerable benefits to human health and economic prosperity. As fish and wildlife disappear, these benefits are compromised. Across the country, 12,000 kinds of plants and animals have been identified as Species of Greatest Conservation Need (SGCN), meaning that they are at risk of becoming endangered due to habitat loss, disease, or other threats. Over 1,300 of these species are found in Texas, the majority of which include wildlife like the pronghorn, Texas horned lizard, American bumblebee, and many bird species.
In the past, fish and wildlife agencies have proven themselves adept at bringing back wildlife species such as white-tailed deer, turkey, and elk from the brink. A new initiative is focused on at-risk fish and wildlife, to keep them from becoming endangered and save the cost of recovery.
Unfortunately, America lacks a dedicated funding stream to conserve vulnerable fish and wildlife. Currently, states are funded at less than 5% of what's needed to implement their Wildlife Action Plans. These plans are designed to conserve at-risk wildlife and their habitats, preventing the need for them to be listed under the Endangered Species Act. To be effective, our states require adequate, dedicated funding.
The Recovering America's Wildlife Act would provide $1.3 billion per year from existing revenues to fund conservation, research, habitat restoration, outdoor recreation, and education programs. Funds would be distributed to the state natural resource agencies to implement State Wildlife Action Plans such as the Texas Conservation Action Plan (TCAP).
The Recovering America’s Wildlife Act would implement recommendations of the Blue Ribbon Panel on Sustaining America’s Diverse Fish and Wildlife Resources. This nonpartisan panel of 26 national leaders representing conservation organizations, the energy industry, outdoor recreation retailers, sportsmen’s group, and governmental agencies was convened to develop recommendations for securing funding that would support the full array of our nation’s fish and wildlife species.
Texas’ share of the Recovering America’s Wildlife Act would mean eligibility of more than $50 million per year in additional federal funding to implement projects in the Texas Conservation Action Plan. These funds, coupled with a 25% nonfederal match, would create new jobs, increase funding for research, fund grants for nonprofit conservation work, and provide other wildlife benefits. Texas Parks and Wildlife Department has developed an internal Task Force to determine how funds from the Recovering America's Wildlife Act would be disbursed. Click here for the TPWD document, Sustaining Our State's Diverse and Wildlife Resources.
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