The introduction of the Recovering America’s Wildlife Act (S.3223) has been introduced this week in the United States Senate. Tennessee Senator Lamar Alexander is one of the co-sponsors of the bipartisan legislation that recommends funding for those fish and wildlife species of greatest conservation need across the country.
“Senator Alexander has championed several wildlife-related issues specific to Tennessee and his leadership on this national issue will be instrumental,” said Ed Carter, executive director of the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency. “His longtime personal interest in wildlife and the outdoors allows a unique personal connection as an advocate for this critical legislation.”
The legislation recommends that Congress authorize $1.3 billion annually from energy development on federal lands and waters to the existing Wildlife Conservation Restoration Program to conserve the full array of fish and wildlife. This solution, proposed initially by leaders of the energy, outdoor recreation retail, manufacturing, and automotive sectors and well as sportsmen’s/women’s and other conservation groups is complementary to existing natural resource conservation and outdoor recreation programs. It will not require taxpayers or businesses to pay more, but instead allows all Americans to become investors in fish and wildlife conservation.
The Senate bill complements the House version introduced in December 2017 which has gained strong, bipartisan co-sponsorship due to its innovative approach to solving America’s wildlife crisis, with the current list of co-sponsors growing to more than 75 members.
Tennessee has one of the most diverse populations of fish and wildlife in the country,” said Pandy Upchurch, assistant chief for the TWRA Biodiversity Division. “While some of our species are thriving, others are continuing to face increasing challenges.”
There are 1,499 species in Tennessee considered to be species of greatest conservation need. There are 79 animals listed as threatened or endangered.
At the request of Congress, every state has developed a State Wildlife Action Plan to assess the health of their state’s fish and wildlife and outline conservation actions necessary to sustain them. The Restoring America’s Wildlife Act will help Tennessee implement its State Wildlife Action Plan. This will help address important wildlife issues that have been traditionally underfunded, and is now the nation’s core program for preventing endangered species listings.