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Wildlife Recovery Bill Could Save Taxpayers Money

Oregon Fish and Wildlife lists the fisher as a species of concern. (Bureau of Land Management/Flickr)
Oregon Fish and Wildlife lists the fisher as a species of concern. (Bureau of Land Management/Flickr)
December 18, 2017

PORTLAND, Ore. – 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.

Bob Rees, head of the Association of Northwest Steelheaders, says this bill could stop the ever-growing list of species on the brink of extinction.

"There's an incredible amount of money that's associated with recovering those species – not to mention the impacts economically and socially, as well as ecologically,” he points out. “So, it's a much-needed interjection of funds for several programs that address that issue of declining species within each of our states."

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 Oregon conservation efforts from $870,000 dollars to $26 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 - OR