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Heinrich, Tillis Introduce Bipartisan Recovering America’s Wildlife Act

Landmark bipartisan bill would make the largest, most significant investment in wildlife and habitat conservation in a generation

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) and Thom Tillis (R-N.C.) reintroduced the bipartisan Recovering America’s Wildlife Act (RAWA). This legislation invests in proactive, on-the-ground conservation work led by states, territories, and Tribal nations to support the long-term health of fish and wildlife and their habitat all across America. These locally-driven, science-based strategies would restore species with the greatest conservation need.

“Protecting America’s fish and wildlife habitat means conserving the creatures we love before they ever become imperiled,” said Heinrich. “After all, our children deserve to inherit the full breadth of American wildlife, from bumble bees to bison, that we know today. This legislation will make that possible.”

“Over the past few years, the outdoors have proven to be a real uniting force in Congress. I’m proud of the momentum and widespread bipartisan support we built with Senator Blunt last Congress, and I look forward to doing the same with Senator Tillis as we work to move this bill across the finish line,” said Heinrich. “Without enough resources, state and Tribal wildlife agencies have been forced to pick and choose which species are worth saving. Instead of doing the proactive work that is necessary to maintain healthy wildlife populations on the front end, they have been forced into using reactive measures to rescue species after they are listed as threatened or endangered. We urgently need to change this paradigm and save thousands of species with a solution that matches the magnitude of the challenge. The Recovering America’s Wildlife Act offers us a constructive path forward. Passing RAWA into law will mean our grandchildren will be able to experience the same rich and abundant American wildlife—from bumblebees to bison—that we have been so lucky to grow up with.”

“Congress has a long history of being champions of conservation efforts in the U.S. to protect our unmatched landscape and wildlife population. Today, we are facing another crisis with too many fish and wildlife being placed on the endangered species list, negatively impacting businesses, farmers, and landowners. This situation must be avoided at all costs, and RAWA gives state and tribal wildlife commissions the tools needed to perform proactive, on-the-ground conservation to prevent threatened species from becoming endangered. This is the first step in long road to build consensus, and I look forward to partnering with Senator Heinrich and my colleagues in Congress to work on this legislation so we can avoid those situations and keep more fish and wildlife off the endangered species list, saving tens of millions of dollars in compliance costs for Americans, and protect our country’s rich natural resources,” said Tillis.

U.S. Representative Debbie Dingell (D-Mich.) will be leading the legislation in the House. “RAWA has always been a bipartisan effort. The United States is facing an unprecedented biodiversity crisis, and we have a conservation, economic, and moral obligation to act in order to protect and recover America’s wildlife for future generations. I have been proud of the support we’ve built behind RAWA from a broad, bipartisan coalition since its first introduction in 2016, and I’m optimistic about the progress we can make this year. We look forward to a strong, bipartisan reintroduction in the House in April. Protecting our nation’s vast and diverse wildlife isn’t a partisan issue, it’s our responsibility, and we won’t stop working until this bill becomes law,” said Dingell.

The Recovering America’s Wildlife Act is a key tool for States, territories, and Tribes. The recovery work funded by RAWA will be guided by the wildlife conservation strategies and plans developed by states, territories, and Tribes. These science-based strategies would restore populations of species with the greatest conservation need. State, territorial, and Tribal wildlife agencies have identified more than 12,000 species in need of conservation assistance. Existing federal funding support is insufficient and fails to provide the resources required to meet all of these needs.

The Recovering America’s Wildlife Act (RAWA): 

  • Funds conservation efforts for more than 12,000 species of wildlife and plants in need of assistance by providing $1.4 billion in dedicated annual funding for proactive, on-the-ground efforts across the country.
  • Provides Tribal nations $97.5 million annually to fund proactive wildlife conservation efforts on roughly 140 million acres of land.
  • Ensures wildlife recovery efforts will be guided by the Congressionally-mandated State Wildlife Action Plans, which identify specific strategies to restore the populations of species of greatest conservation need.
  • Accelerates the recovery of approximately 1,600 U.S. species already listed as threatened or endangered under the Endangered Species Act.
  • Includes improvements to ensure funds are appropriately targeted to the areas of greatest need and facilitate additional investments in protecting at-risk plant species.

Senator Heinrich first introduced RAWA alongside former-U.S. Senator Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) in 2021. The Senate bill was voted out of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works (EPW) in 2022. 

RAWA is supported by over 60 Tribes and 1,500 organizations representing state fish and wildlife agencies, sportsmen and women, conservation groups, and industry associations and businesses.