Conservation groups are hailing Congress' new Recovering America's Wildlife Act as a once-in-a-generation opportunity to protect at-risk species from what scientists warn could be a mass-extinction crisis. The 1.4 billion-dollar measure would boost funding for Wildlife Action Plans in Arizona and other states to help preserve thousands of vulnerable species.
"We can pay a little bit now and we can help the species that need it the most," Scott Garlid said. "Or, if we choose not to do anything, these species are going to end up on the threatened and endangered list. We're going to face much more dire and expensive consequences down the road.”
Garlid, with the Arizona Wildlife Federation, sees money from the new Recovering America’s Wildlife Act as an investment to help thousands of already threatened or endangered animals and keep others off the list.
An updated version of the bill filed in the U.S. House last week would fund conservation in all 50 states, restoring habitats, reintroducing native species and battling diseases. An additional 97 million dollars is earmarked for wildlife preservation on tribal lands.
The bill has bipartisan support in Congress. Garlid said the measure will help Arizona protect dozens of iconic species.
Collin O'Mara with the National Wildlife Federation believes the Act will fund the type of cooperative efforts that, in past decades, helped preserve numerous species.
"The goal of the Recovering America’s Wildlife Act is to invest in that collaborative, on-the-ground conservation work that’s been so successful for species like deer and wild turkeys and elk," O'Mara said. "Using those same practices to restore the full diversity of wildlife."
Funding from the Act will augment traditional wildlife revenue streams such as state hunting and fishing licenses and taxes on hunting and fishing gear. It is expected to create thousands of jobs both at wildlife agencies and in the outdoor-recreation industry.