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WV Groups Applaud Landmark Wildlife Recovery Act

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West Virginia's forests support more than 35% of the world's cerulean warblers, an endangered species. (Wikimedia Commons)
West Virginia's forests support more than 35% of the world's cerulean warblers, an endangered species. (Wikimedia Commons)

 By Diane Bernard - Producer, Contact
April 23, 2021

CHARLESTON, W.Va. - As the nation faces what scientists call a mass extinction crisis, West Virginia environmental groups are hailing Congress's new Recovering America's Wildlife Act as a once-in-a-generation breakthrough to protect species at risk.

At nearly $1.4 billion, the legislation boosts funding to state fish and wildlife agencies to help preserve thousands of vulnerable species, like West Virginia's native brook trout.

Angie Rosser, executive director of the West Virginia Rivers Coalition, said the Mountain State is seeing more and more species land on the endangered list, including the cerulean warbler and spotted turtle.

"What excites me about something like Recovering America's Wildlife Act is, the goal is not only to reverse the trend and to bring back species that are already endangered and dwindling," said Rosser, "but also to make sure that additional species don't get in that perilous position."

The bill was introduced in the U.S. House yesterday and would fund conservation efforts, including restoring habitats, reintroducing native species and battling diseases.

Rosser pointed out that wildlife conservation needs to go hand-in-hand with West Virginia's tourism economy.

"It's important to couple access - as we're conserving and protecting habitat, that we're also helping to increase visitor and recreation access to these places," said Rosser, "so we can enjoy these species and all they have to offer."

Collin O'Mara, president and CEO of the National Wildlife Federation, noted that more than one third of all U.S. wildlife species are at risk. He said the Recovery Act will invest in collaborative conservation work that, decades ago, helped save deer, wild turkey and elk.

"The idea is that by doing the habitat work, and making sure there are good native plants and good native habitats and connectivity," said O'Mara, "so we can bring back these species through collaboration, rather than needing to resort to more regulatory tools."

Funding from the bipartisan bill would go to all 50 states, with an addition $97 million a year for tribal wildlife preservation efforts.

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.
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