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Aid for State Species Recovery Plans Gets House Hearing

The bighorn sheep is among about 200 species Idaho has identified as in need of protection efforts. (Peter Oelschlaeger/Flickr)
The bighorn sheep is among about 200 species Idaho has identified as in need of protection efforts. (Peter Oelschlaeger/Flickr)
December 4, 2019

BOISE, Idaho – A key congressional committee is set to take a closer look at a bipartisan bill that aims to keep wildlife off the endangered species list.

The Recovering America's Wildlife Act, scheduled for markup Thursday in the House Natural Resources Committee, would allocate $1.3 billion annually to state wildlife agencies, including more than $17 million for the Idaho Department of Fish and Game.

"The Recovering America's Wildlife Act is the most significant piece of wildlife legislation since the Endangered Species Act passed in 1973," said Brian Brooks, executive director of the Idaho Wildlife Federation. "It's been a long time since we have made any landmark federal legislation that really helps wildlife."

Brooks said the bill would help recover about 200 species the state has identified as in need of protection, including such iconic species as salmon and steelhead, bighorn sheep and sage grouse.

State wildlife agencies across the country have identified about 12,000 species that could benefit from this approach.

Collin O'Mara, president and chief executive of the National Wildlife Federation, said the threats to species worldwide have gained some recent attention, including a study showing bird populations have declined nearly 30% since 1970.

As urgency grows, O'Mara said, more preventive measures must be put into place to keep species "out of the emergency room."

"By making those investments upstream, we can avoid tens of billions of dollars of taxpayer expenses in the future," he added. "We also know that we can avoid significant impacts on various industries that are often affected when species are endangered on their property."

The legislation also would dedicate more than $97 million to tribal wildlife conservation efforts.

Rep. Mike Simpson, R-Idaho, is among 157 co-sponsors of the Recovering America's Wildlife Act, and Rep. Russ Fulcher, R-Idaho, sits on the House committee expected to vote on the bill this week.

Text of the bill is online at congress.gov. The bird study is at science.sciencemag.org.

Disclosure: National Wildlife Federation contributes to our fund for reporting on Climate Change/Air Quality, Endangered Species & Wildlife, Energy Policy, Environment, Public Lands/Wilderness, Salmon Recovery, Water. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.
Eric Tegethoff, Public News Service - ID