Bipartisan Congressional Group Urges Support for State and Tribal Wildlife Grants

THE OUTDOOR WIRE
Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Bipartisan Congressional Group Urges Support for State and Tribal Wildlife Grants

WASHINGTON - Congressmen Don Young (AK) Mike Thompson (CA), Michael Grimm (NY) and Ron Kind (WI) were joined by 111 of their colleagues on a letter to the leadership of the U.S. House of Representatives Interior Appropriations Subcommittee in support of State and Tribal Wildlife Grants. Created by Congress in 2000, the State and Tribal Wildlife Grants Program is the only federal program providing funding to states and their partners for the conservation of more than 12,000 species of fish and wildlife that are at-risk of extinction.

In the letter, Members urged the Subcommittee to provide the most robust funding possible for the Program in FY2014 and to hold the non-federal dollar match requirement at 35 percent to assist states that are struggling from significant reductions in their conservation budgets.

Like preventative healthcare, the State and Tribal Wildlife Grant Program is a win-win for all parties involved. This program is a way to avoid adding additional wildlife to the federal endangered species list, which we all know has a negative economic impact on communities, homeowners, conservationists and sportsmen alike. Representing a state like Alaska, which is home to some of the most pristine wildlife in America, I know firsthand that collaboration between the federal and state governments, as well as the private sector is the best and most efficient way to keep wildlife from becoming endangered. Today I am pleased to once again support this vital program,” said Congressman Don Young (AK).

The State and Tribal Wildlife Grants Program funds the implementation of congressionally required State Wildlife Action Plans in every state and territory. States, tribes and their partners use the grants to combat invasive species, protect natural areas, restore habitat, conduct research, implement monitoring programs and facilitate partnerships with landowners to protect declining species and habitats on public and private lands. The Program leverages tens of millions of dollars in state and private funds each year and helps support thousands of jobs and the $730 billion outdoor recreation industry.

Once we lose a species we also lose recreational and economic opportunities that are associated with them,” said Congressman Mike Thompson (CA). “We have to maintain funding to help keep species off the endangered list. We owe this to our economy, our environment and future generations of Americans. I will continue to support and fight for the State and Tribal Wildlife Grants Program so that we can continue improving conservation efforts in California and across our nation.”

State and Tribal Wildlife Grants currently fund states’ work to recover many iconic species including Sage Grouse, Louisiana Black Bear, Lesser Prairie Chicken, Whooping Crane, Fisher, Spotted Salamander, Bog Turtle, Pica, Swift Fox, Lake Sturgeon and many other at-risk species. The Program is largely responsible for the de-listing of the federally threatened Lake Erie Water Snake in 2011 and has prevented the listing of numerous species that have been considered for the federal endangered species list. Preventing endangered species listings is the goal of the program.

Despite these many successes, the grants program has been cut by more than 35% since 2010. At the current funding level of $58 million annually, direct funding to states and territories averages just $800,000-equating to $3,750 per at-risk species. In comparison, the cost to recover a single endangered species is often in the millions of dollars.

The State and Tribal Wildlife Grants Program is a cost-effective and efficient approach to conserving at-risk species,” said Dr. Jonathan Gassett, Commissioner of the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources, and previous President of the Association of Fish & Wildlife Agencies. “We need to scale up investments in this kind of work, not reduce it at a time when petitions for federal listing are skyrocketing, including 600 new petitions just within the last three years.”

State hunting and fishing license dollars, federal excise taxes on hunting and fishing gear and motorboat fuel taxes have provided the backbone for funding the nation’s state wildlife conservation programs over the past century. However, there has always been a gap in resources to conserve the 90 percent of species that are neither hunted nor fished. State and Tribal Wildlife Grants have provided state fish and wildlife agencies with the resources they need to partially fill that gap.

A copy of the House Dear Colleague letter is available at www.teaming.com. A companion letter championed by Senators Ben Cardin (MD) and Mike Crapo (ID) was circulated to the Senate Interior Appropriations Committee with more than 30 Senators signed on in support of the State and Tribal Wildlife Grants Program.

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Teaming With Wildlife, a national coalition of more than 6,300 conservation organizations and nature-based businesses-including state fish and wildlife agencies, wildlife biologists, hunters and anglers, birdwatchers, hikers and other conservationists-is working to prevent wildlife from becoming endangered by supporting increased state, federal and private funding for wildlife conservation. Found on the web at www.teaming.com

The Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies-the organization that represents North America’s fish and wildlife agencies-promotes sound management and conservation, and speaks with a unified voice on important fish and wildlife issues. Found on the web at www.fishwildlife.org.

Association of Fish & Wildlife Agencies
Contact:
Laura MacLean
202/624-7744 — lmaclean@fishwildlife.org