How the Recovering America’s Wildlife Act Benefits Wildlife and People

Bison and calf walking through the snow
Bison Over 13,500 species in the U.S. need conservation help now. © Jenny Zhao/TNC Photo Contest 2022

The Recovering America’s Wildlife Act will help safeguard habitats and biodiversity, slow extinction rates and secure a brighter future for people and nature.

Update: On March 30, 2023, U.S. senators reintroduced the Recovering America's Wildlife Act. If passed into law, the act would be the largest investment in U.S. wildlife conservation in decades. See TNC's statement.

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The Recovering America's Wildlife Act can help save struggling wildlife and provide jobs.

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Over a third of America’s fish and wildlife species are at risk of extinction. Over 1,600 species are already listed under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) with state fish and wildlife agencies identifying more than 12,000 additional species that need conservation help now.

It is part of a disturbing global decline to the diversity of life on earth, but the loss of this biodiversity is not just a threat to the species themselves. With Americans spending $140 billion on wildlife-focused recreation every year, it's also a threat to communities and the economies that depend on them.

The Recovering America’s Wildlife Act (S. 1149), or RAWA, would be the most significant investment in wildlife conservation in decades providing $1.397 billion to fund local and state efforts to help recover endangered species and to prevent at-risk wildlife from becoming endangered. 

Mama Bear
Mama Bear Grizzly bears are currently protected as a threatened species with under 2,000 remaining in the 48 contiguous states. Funding from RAWA could help the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service increase protection efforts already underway in recovery zones. © Jaime Hammond/TNC Photo Contest 2022
Off to Sea
Off to Sea It's estimated that the global population of the leatherback sea turtle has declined 40 percent over the past three generations. Leatherback turtle nesting has significantly decreased on the Atlantic coast of Florida, which is one of the main nesting areas in the continental United States. © Martha Lent/TNC Photo Contest 2019

How RAWA Benefits Wildlife and People

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    RAWA would provide billions for local and state efforts to help endangered wildlife.

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    Species have been identified as endangered or in need of conservation help.

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    For supporting dedicated tribal wildlife conservation efforts.

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    RAWA doesn't just support wildlife. The bill could generate as many as 33,600 direct jobs every year.

State wildlife agencies are in a unique position to help avert wildlife loss and protect America’s biodiversity.

Every 10 years, state wildlife agencies collaboratively assess how wildlife in their respective states are doing recording species that are in decline and in need of proactive conservation attention.

Together with partners, state fish and wildlife agencies have had great success restoring species that were once on the brink of extinction, including bald eagles, peregrine falcons, white-tailed deer, turkey, elk, striped bass and more.

These are all examples of fish and wildlife that now have healthy and thriving populations thanks to dedicated funding for increased conservation efforts.

To date, 80% of the funding for state wildlife agencies comes from state hunting and fishing licenses and permits as well as federal excise taxes on hunting and fishing gear.

While this funding model has worked for decades, the accelerating loss of biodiversity requires a new approach and more investment.

Photo of a Florida panther walking forward.
Florida Panther When the Florida panther was included in the Endangered Species Act in 1973, there were fewer than three dozen cats remaining in the wild. Now, there are an estimated 200 panthers left in the wild thanks to conservation and recovery efforts. Funding from RAWA would help boost existing programs to restore species with the greatest conservation need like the Florida panther. © Carlton Ward Jr.

RAWA would be the most significant investment in wildlife conservation in decades.

The proposed $1.397 billion bill would be used for on-the-ground conservation efforts such as conserving and restoring habitats, fighting invasive species, reintroducing native species and tackling emerging diseases. 

Approximately $1.3 billion would be spent by state fish and wildlife agencies, in partnership with state-based conservation entities. The state agencies will use the funding to implement their congressionally mandated state wildlife action plans. These detailed plans incorporate science and public input and are approved by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. 

The remaining $97.5 million will go towards supporting tribal wildlife conservation efforts.

Three people in a field look over a map.
Habitat Protection in Kentucky Staff from TNC and the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife tour a project in Crittenden County that will protect 4,285 acres providing watershed and water quality protection as well as guarding endangered and threatened species recovery. RAWA would provide much-needed funding for state fish and wildlife agencies to carry out restoration and conservation of species and their habitats. © Mark Godfrey/The Nature Conservancy

Taking action when species are just starting to decline rather than waiting until they are threatened with imminent extinction is a smart investment. 

If a species is in such bad shape that it qualifies for the “emergency room” measures of the ESA, it is much more difficult—and more expensive—to recover the species. 

Saving wildlife is an investment in a clean, sustainable, and thriving economy for rural and urban communities alike. 

Efforts to recover a fish species by restoring a wetland, for example, not only benefit that species but can improve local water quality, protect that community from flooding and create jobs. 

Overall, RAWA could generate as many as 33,600 direct jobs every year in fields ranging from construction to forestry, as well as boost the country’s outdoor recreation economy.

RAWA is good for wildlife, good for people and good for business.

A solo wolf howling
Call of the Wild Call of the Wild // A member of the Wapiti Lake wolf pack howls at the edge of a sagebrush meadow. Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming. October, 2020. © Loren Merrill/TNC Photo Contest 2021