The U.S. House of Representatives Natural Resources Committee is considering a bill to fund the Recovering America’s Wildlife Act.
“Across America right now, and in Utah, there’s a range of species that are in trouble," said Collin O’Mara, president of the National Wildlife Federation, a conservation organization. "And the goal of the Recovering America’s Wildlife Act is to basically invest in proactive collaborative conservation.”
The Recovering America’s Wildlife Act will be different from the Endangered Species Act in a few ways.
”So the Endangered Species Act was always supposed to be a tool of last resort," he said. "And so the goal of this bill is to help save those species but also the ones that are one or two steps before getting to that point, which is a lot cheaper and frankly more overall effective to help save a population before it declines to the point where it needs those emergency protections.”
Also, the funding will be for voluntary actions, not actions mandated by law, like in cases where the Endangered Species Act is enforced.
“The idea is that by bringing people together we could actually do a lot more to save species than hoping that various regulations and litigations in the courts is going to be sufficient,” O'Mara said.
The House of Representatives Natural Resource Committee will vote on the bill this year.
“Which actually Utah has a lot of representation on it," O'Mara said. "You have former Chairman Bishop and Representative Curtis who are both kind of leaders in this area, on that committee... "This is the kind of bipartisan work that has such broad support back home. In Utah, more than 85% of residents support more collaboration to help wildlife.”
The money will be distributed to states and Native American Tribes to promote voluntary conservation initiatives. If passed into law, Utah will receive an additional $18 to 20 million annually for conservation.