Conservation News

Recovering America’s Wildlife Act: The Most Important Conservation Legislation in a Generation Advances to the Senate with Resounding Bi-Partisan Support

Johnny Morris and the Bass Pro Shops family of outdoor companies are proud to stand alongside America’s sportsmen to ensure the future of the resources upon which we all depend.

Today we rise together in celebration of the fact that the Recovering America’s Wildlife Act, the most impactful piece of conservation legislation of the past 50 years, passed through the Senate’s Environment and Public Works Committee last week with a vote of 15-1. It builds on the conservation foundation that has served our country so admirably for the past 85 years. It will fundamentally improve management of natural resources and create a dedicated funding vehicle to sustainably empower conservation across the country for generations.

Johnny Morris, founder of Bass Pro Shops and noted conservationist, co-chaired the Blue Ribbon Panel that led to the Act’s formulation. We now stand alongside hunters and anglers, the backbone of American conservation, to applaud the bi-partisan support the Act is receiving in the House and Senate.

Beyond codifying how conservation is funded in America for the next 50 years — creating a dedicated $1.4 billion annually (without imposing any new taxes) — the Act showcases the value of wild places and the sporting heritage on a truly national stage. The near-universal support for the bill also illustrates the unifying power of nature and the great outdoors. According to a recent national poll from Data for Progress, some 91 percent of Americans support conservation, and 84 percent of those polled support the bill.

This broad base of support for the future of wildlife in America crosses not only political lines but transcends race, age, gender and socio-economic backgrounds as well. As important as this legislation is for sportsmen, clean air and unpolluted water are good for every American.

Background on the Recovering America’s Wildlife Act

Our nation’s wildlife resources come under increasing strain for a variety of reasons. These challenges are compounded by an outdated and grossly inadequate system of conservation funding in America.  In response to these challenges, the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies created the 28-member Blue Ribbon Panel on Sustaining America’s Diverse Fish & Wildlife Resources. Co-chaired by Johnny Morris and Dave Freudenthal, the former governor of Wyoming, the panel was composed of national business and conservation leaders from a diversity of backgrounds.

The panel identified the need to create a dedicated, consistent mechanism to fund the work of state fish and wildlife agencies. Such a reliable funding source would not only provide the resources necessary for state agencies to execute conservation efforts, but to allow them to strategically plan for success.

The 28-member Blue Ribbon Panel on Sustaining America’s Diverse Fish & Wildlife Resources convened at Big Cedar Lodge, America’s Premier Wilderness Resort, in 2015.

The panel proposed dedicating $1.39 billion annually to fund fish and wildlife conservation in the United States. Rather than imposing a new tax, this conservation funding would come from redirecting a portion of environmental penalties and mitigation funds paid annually to the federal government. The Blue Ribbon Panel and its recommendations were the first step in the groundswell that has grown into Recovering America’s Wildlife Act.

Along with the change in funding mechanism, the Act calls for a landscape scale approach to management. Rather than considering conservation in terms of a single species or two, agencies are encouraged to manage for interconnected systems that consider all of the plant, animal, water and land resources that are found within them. From prairies to rivers and wetlands and pollinators to big game, Recovering America’s Wildlife Act forces management of habitats for the benefit of all species that depend on them.

In terms of real-world impact, the Recovering America’s Wildlife Act is transformative. It represents a purposeful investment in our country’s future. This investment will not only improve and restore wildlife but reinforce our nation’s role as the world leader in the field of conservation. After all, access to wild places is an essential component of the American identity. It always has been.

How You Can Help

Johnny Morris and the Bass Pro Shops family of outdoor companies remain dedicated to ensuring passage of this incredibly important legislation into law. We would like to thank and recognize the bill’s sponsors, Sen. Roy Blunt (R) of Missouri and Sen. Martin Heinrich (D) of New Mexico, for their leadership, commitment and vision on behalf of all current and future generations of Americans who love the outdoors. We also thank and recognize our many leading conservation partners, including Collin O’Mara of the National Wildlife Federation and Jeff Crane of the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation, whose work and support continue to be instrumental in the bill’s journey to fruition. Most importantly, we thank the American sportsmen and women for their continuing, unabated commitment to conservation. Together we can move mountains.

To express your support for Recovering America’s Wildlife Act, contact your senator today. The next step in process, passage through the Senate, is expected to occur in May or June. 

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