Bipartisan Bill Could Help Protect Hundreds of NC Wildlife Species
RALEIGH, N.C. – Congress is considering a bill that would direct nearly $1.4 billion to state fish and wildlife agencies.
Introduced by Rep. Debbie Dingell, a Democrat from Michigan, and Republican Jeff Fortenberry of Nebraska, the Recovering America’s Wildlife Act aims to help states protect an estimated 12,000 at-risk species of fish and wildlife across the country. Gordon Meyers, executive director of the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission, said the state has around 450 fish and wildlife species that need protection.
“In North Carolina, we’re a state that is more than 90% private land,” Meyers said. “Conservation is truly a team sport or partnership with implementing programs that help landowners achieve conservation outcomes, while also meeting other desires on the land.”
The funding would help North Carolina implement its action plan designed to monitor species’ health and pinpoint species and habitats that need to be conserved before they become rare and costly to protect. The bill has 70 co-sponsors, including Reps. Ted Budd and David Rouzer of North Carolina. It now needs a vote by the House Natural Resources and Budget committees.
Collin O’Mara, president and CEO of the National Wildlife Federation, said even if state wildlife agencies know which species are at risk, they can’t carry out planned management and conservation strategies without consistent funding. That’s what this bill would provide.
“By acting earlier, we can avoid millions of dollars – hundreds of millions of dollars – of costly recovery efforts. We can avoid years of regulatory and litigation fights by doing things more proactively,” O’Mara said. “So I think that’s the biggest difference, right? It’s really focused on this idea of preventative measures early, so we avoid the ’emergency room’ later.”
O’Mara also pointed out the outdoor recreation industry relies on healthy, sustainable fish and wildlife populations. The federal Bureau of Economic Analysis reported in 2016, the outdoor recreation industry generated more than $400 billion in economic activity.