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Risch backs bill to put $1.3 billion toward conservation



Senators James Risch (R-Idaho) and Joe Manchin (D-West Virginia) introduced Recovering America’s Wildlife Act into the Senate on July 17, which could redirect $1.3 billion in federal money to states for fish and wildlife species with the highest needs. The House version of the bill was introduced in December.

If the act becomes law, Idaho Fish and Game intends to use its share of the funds to implement Idaho’s State Wildlife Action Plan. The plan provides strategic direction to use non-regulatory, action-based solutions to conserve fish and wildlife with an emphasis on more than 200 species of greatest conservation need, which include greater sage grouse, wolverine and wild steelhead.

“The Recovering America’s Wildlife Act would allow the Idaho Fish and Game Commission to devote additional resources to species of concern without detracting from others. That in turn would benefit the management of all fish and wildlife in Idaho and the citizens who enjoy it through better conservation and also enhancing the rich tradition of hunting and fishing,” Fish and Game Commission Chairman Derick Attebury said.

The act would redirect $1.3 billion annually in existing royalties from the development of energy and minerals on federal lands and waters to be dedicated to the Wildlife Conservation Restoration Program, which is an account under the Pittman-Robertson Wildlife Restoration Program.

The Recovering America’s Wildlife Act could be the most important conservation legislation in a generation. For more than 75 years, wildlife conservation in the U.S. has primarily been funded through fishing, hunting and trapping license fees, as well as excise taxes on hunting and fishing equipment.

“This funding will be a game changer for the conservation and management of Idaho’s fish and wildlife,” said Rex Sallabanks, Fish and Game’s Wildlife Diversity Manager. “Species identified as being in the greatest need of conservation in Idaho’s State Wildlife Action Plan need our attention in order to prevent them from becoming listed as Threatened or Endangered under the Endangered Species Act.

“Passage of the Recovering America’s Wildlife Act would enable the Idaho Department of Fish and Game to implement necessary and important actions to benefit these species — including both game and nongame — thus maintaining our state-led management authority as stewards of the full array of Idaho’s fish and wildlife,” Sallabanks said.



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