RGS/AWS Applauds Senate Introduction of Recovering America's Wildlife Act


07/23/18

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Bill provides proactive wildlife conservation funding at no taxpayer cost

CORAOPOLIS, PA The Ruffed Grouse Society and American Woodcock Society (RGS/AWS) enthusiastically supported the recent introduction of the Recovering America’s Wildlife Act (S.3223) in the United States Senate. On July 17, Senators James Risch (R-ID) and Joe Manchin (D-WV) along with their colleagues Lamar Alexander (R-TN), and Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND) introduced the bipartisan legislation that recommends funding for fish and wildlife species in greatest need of conservation across the country.

S.3223 recommends that Congress authorize $1.3 billion annually from energy development on federal lands and waters to the existing Wildlife Conservation Restoration Program to conserve the full array of fish and wildlife. This solution, proposed initially by leaders of the energy, outdoor recreation retail, manufacturing, and automotive sectors and well as sportsmen’s/women’s and other conservation groups is complementary to existing natural resource conservation and outdoor recreation programs and will not require taxpayers or businesses to pay more, but instead allows all Americans to become investors in fish and wildlife conservation.

The Senate bill complements the House version (H.R. 4647), introduced in December 2017 by Jeff Fortenberry (R-NE-1) and Debbie Dingell (D-MI-12), which has gained strong, bipartisan co-sponsorship from more than 75 House members. Due to its innovative approach to solving America’s wildlife crisis, the wildlife conservation community has also voiced broad support, including through a February 14, 2018 sign-on letter from members of the American Wildlife Conservation Partners.

“This bill is an important step to help address a crisis facing America’s wildlife. In just the past few decades, 53% of the bird species that breed in shrub-dominated or young forest habitats across in the eastern United States and Canada have experienced population declines,” noted Dr. Ben Jones, President and CEO of RGS/AWS. “Across modern, human-dominated landscapes, natural disturbance no longer regenerates the habitats these wildlife need. Their conservation depends upon proactive, on-the-ground management efforts that require financial resources and collaboration. We’re grateful to Senators Risch and Manchin for introducing a bill that represents an opportunity to realize this vision.”

“This legislation puts states back in control of conservation efforts and affords them greater flexibility to meet their state-specific needs, while also protecting the legacy of hunting and the value the industry brings to wildlife conservation,” said Senator Risch, Co-Chair of the Congressional Sportsman’s Caucus. “Additionally, by engaging in these proactive, voluntary conservation actions, we will save millions of tax dollars that are otherwise spent on restoring threatened and endangered species.”

“In West Virginia hunting, fishing and outdoor activities are family traditions deeply ingrained in who we are as a state. The Recovering America’s Wildlife Act will ensure we continue to promote our state’s unique wildlife and preserve our rich outdoor traditions. That’s why I am proud to introduce this bipartisan bill to make West Virginia ever more wild and wonderful,” Senator Manchin said.

“We applaud the Senate Congressional Sportsmen’s Caucus leaders Senators Risch, Manchin, and Heitkamp, as well as Caucus Member Senator Alexander for introducing this important piece of legislation,” said Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation President Jeff Crane. “America’s hunters, anglers, recreational shooters, and boaters have been the primary funders of state-based conservation efforts to this day. This legislation will complement the contributions of sportsmen and women to ensure healthy fish and wildlife populations for future generations to enjoy.”    

“Taxpayers and businesses foot the bill for hundreds of millions of dollars each year to restore rare species, outlays that might be avoided if state agencies had resources to implement proactive conservation measures before threatened and endangered listings were required,” noted RGS/AWS Director of Conservation Policy Dr. Brent Rudolph. “Furthermore, many of the existing State Wildlife Action Plans that would direct the use of this additional funding already recognize the habitats and even the species our members care so much about – American woodcock and ruffed grouse – among those in greatest need of increased management efforts.”

States that identified American woodcock (TOP) and ruffed grouse (BOTTOM) as Species of Greatest Conservation Need in their 2015 State Wildlife Action Plan (SWAP).

Woodcock and Grouse as SGCN map

(Source:  U.S. Geological Survey SWAP Species Conservation Analysis Tool)

As partners with the Alliance for America’s Fish and Wildlife, RGS/AWS encourages members to visit OurNatureUSA.com for assistance with indicating your support for the Recovering America’s Wildlife Act to your Senators and U.S. Representatives. Visit here to learn more about the Alliance, see a list of partner organizations, or sign your organization up to support the Recovering America’s Wildlife Act.

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Established in 1961, the Ruffed Grouse Society/American Woodcock Society is North America’s foremost conservation organization dedicated to preserving our sporting traditions by creating healthy forest habitat for ruffed grouse, American woodcock and other wildlife. RGS/AWS works with landowners and government agencies to develop critical habitat utilizing scientific management practices.

As a financially healthy, accountable, and transparent organization, RGS/AWS holds designation as a Charity Navigator Four-Star charity and Better Business Bureau accreditation. Information on RGS/AWS, its mission, management projects and membership are on the web at: www.RuffedGrouseSociety.org.

Media Contact:
Brent Rudolph, RGS/AWS Director of Conservation Policy
(517) 980-4570
BrentR@RuffedGrouseSociety.org

Mission Statement

Established in 1961, the Ruffed Grouse Society is North America's foremost conservation organization dedicated to preserving our sporting traditions by creating healthy forest habitat for ruffed grouse, American woodcock and other wildlife. RGS works with landowners and government agencies to develop critical habitat utilizing scientific management practices.

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