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Bill Provides Proactive Way to Conserve Species Before They're Endangered

Conservation efforts in Idaho helped recover wolverine populations. (Susanne Nilsson/Flickr)
Conservation efforts in Idaho helped recover wolverine populations. (Susanne Nilsson/Flickr)
December 18, 2017

BOISE, Idaho – What if states had the resources to prevent animals from ending up on the Endangered Species list?

A bill introduced in Congress aims to do just that. Known as the Recovering America's Wildlife Act, it would fund states' wildlife management efforts before species are in dire need of help.

The co-sponsors – Republican Rep. Jeff Fortenberry of Nebraska and Democratic Rep. Debbie Dingell of Michigan – say about 12,000 species nationwide could benefit from this approach.

Brian Brooks, executive director of the Idaho Wildlife Federation, says the bill has support in the state from energy industry groups, as well as logging, mining, and grazing groups.

"This is a proactive way to prevent those controversial and restrictive regulatory mechanisms to conserve species so that we can continue with our traditional uses, so that there's an abundance of wildlife that we don't need to enact those regulations," he points out.

Brooks says state efforts have helped save species in Idaho such as the wolverine.

The $1.3 billion in funding for the bill would come from an existing tax paid by energy and resource industries for the right to develop on federal lands that generates $10 billion annually.

It would raise money for Idaho's conservation efforts from $570,000 dollars to nearly $19 million.

Collin O'Mara, president and CEO of the National Wildlife Federation, maintains addressing problems before using the Endangered Species list is a smarter way to preserve wildlife.

He notes representatives from both sides of the aisle have voiced support.

"There's obviously an intrinsic value and responsibility to save these species,” he states. “But from an economic point of view, if we have a solution that's going to reduce regulatory uncertainty and really bolster the economy overall, that could be a home run."

The bill lays out a plan to provide 75 percent of the funding for preservation programs, and only requires states to pay one-quarter of the cost.



Eric Tegethoff, Public News Service - ID