By John Shepperd, Executive Director, Texas Foundation for Conservation
The alarm bell is sounding for America’s wildlife. Once common, monarch butterflies have declined to the point where they are considered at real risk of extinction. We’ve lost nearly three billion birds that once filled our skies. And more than one-third of America’s wildlife are facing an elevated risk of extinction.
Right now, Congress is poised to act on a game-changing bipartisan bill that will address this wildlife crisis in a meaningful way.
This bill, the Recovering America’s Wildlife Act, will direct $1.4 billion of existing federal revenue across the U.S. to support locally-led efforts to help fish, bird, and wildlife species that are in decline. The funds will come from existing revenue sources, so there will be no new taxes. The bill has 32 cosponsors in the Senate—half of them Republicans, half Democrats— and more than 170 in the House.
If passed, the bill would provide more than $50 million annually to Texas, which would use the money to help the state’s 1,200 at-risk species, such as the Texas Horned Lizard, Guadalupe Bass, Wood Thrush, and Northern Bobwhite. The Recovering America’s Wildlife Act will also provide supplemental funding for federally-listed endangered species like the Whooping Crane and Kemp’s Ridley Sea Turtle.
But the real purpose of the bill is intended to prevent wildlife populations from declining to such a low level that they require protection under the Endangered Species Act. Helping populations rebound before they become endangered saves taxpayers money over the long run. It is much easier, and cheaper, to save a species if you start early, before extinction is a possibility. The Recovering America’s Wildlife Act is the ounce of prevention that avoids needing a pound of cure.
If the Recovering America’s Wildlife Act passes, we could expand reintroduction of “horny toads” to places where they’ve disappeared. We could restore native prairies, home to declining pollinators and to songbirds such as the Eastern Meadowlark and Grasshopper Sparrow. We can help ensure that Pronghorn Antelope continue to roam West Texas, and that Red-Headed Woodpeckers still nest in East Texas woodlands. Whether it’s for rivers or forests, grasslands or coasts, this legislation will provide a crucial investment in habitat restoration and management on public and private land, thus reaping countless benefits for wildlife and Texans alike.
The Recovering America’s Wildlife Act is ready for floor votes in both houses of Congress, and it has strong bipartisan support. This is an opportunity for Congress to work together so our children’s children can have the same rich wildlife experiences that we have.
You can help make this critical conservation effort a reality. Find out how to contact your U.S. Representative and U.S. Senators on our website txwildlifealliance.org, then ask for their support of the Recovering America’s Wildlife Act.