The Challenge to Conserving Fish and Wildlife
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. Across the country, 12,000 kinds of 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. 1,310 of these species are found in Texas, among them the pronghorn, black bear, loggerhead sea turtle, Texas horned lizard, golden-cheeked warbler, and American bumblebee.
12,000 kinds of U.S. animals have been identified as Species of Greatest Conservation Need (SGCN)
In the past, fish and wildlife agencies have proven themselves adept at bringing back species such as white-tailed deer, turkey, and elk from the brink. A new initiative is focused on the Species of Greatest Conservation Need, to keep them from becoming endangered and save the cost of recovery.
A Fundamental Change in Wildlife Funding
The Recovering America’s Wildlife Act, House Resolution 4647, introduced in Congress by Representatives Jeff Fortenberry (R-NE) and Debbie Dingell (D-MI), seeks to avert this crisis by dedicating $1.3 billion annually in existing royalties from energy and mineral production on federal lands and waters for wildlife restoration. These funds would be distributed to the state natural resource agencies to implement State Wildlife Action Plans such as the Texas Conservation Action Plan (TCAP). These plans are designed to conserve at-risk species and keep them off of the Threatened and Endangered Species List.
The Recovering America’s Wildlife Act would implement the 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. The panel reviewed a variety of options and determined that utilizing existing revenue from energy and mineral development represented the most logical and economically-viable method for funding fish and wildlife.
Texas’ share of the Recovering America’s Wildlife Act would mean eligibility of more than $63 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 to link to H.R. 4647. Click here for the TPWD document, Sustaining Our State's Diverse and Wildlife Resources.