New Federal Legislation to Benefit Habitat, Falls Short of RAWA

For Immediate Release                    

Feb. 29, 2024 

Contact: Thomas Plank 303-720-0111, [email protected]  

Kaden McArthur 435-770-3774, [email protected]

WASHINGTON, D.C. – As the leading voice for the conservation of our public lands, waters, and wildlife, Backcountry Hunters & Anglers (BHA) continues to advocate for dependable and robust funding for state and tribal management of fish and wildlife. Today BHA lauded the introduction of the America’s Wildlife Habitat Conservation Act (H.R. 7408) by House Natural Resources Committee Chairman Bruce Westerman (R-AR). 

This new legislation would offer benefits for the conservation of fish and wildlife habitat by authorizing up to $320 million annually for state and tribal fish and wildlife agencies over the next five years. BHA is encouraged by Chairman Westerman’s desire to conserve and restore habitat and hopes this development will advance negotiations to leverage resources for the management of at-risk species across the United States. The legislation falls short, however, of providing desperately needed long-term funding stability that meets the demonstrated level of demand for state and tribal conservation efforts.  

“Hunters and anglers have provided the vast majority of conservation funding across the country through the excise taxes we pay on firearms and fishing and hunting equipment,” said Patrick Berry, BHA President and CEO. “The Pittman-Robertson and Dingell-Johnson grant programs have been the vehicle for these funding mechanisms, and BHA understands the necessity of expanding and dedicating funding for state and tribal agencies to manage at-risk species, and, in turn, habitat for all species including those pursued by hunters and anglers. We urge Congress to continue supporting these programs.” 

As a part of the Alliance for America’s Fish & Wildlife, BHA is committed to advancing the bipartisan Recovering America’s Wildlife Act (RAWA) led by Sens. Martin Heinrich (D-NM) and Thom Tillis (R-NC). RAWA presents the greatest legislative opportunity to recover at-risk species, as it would allocate nearly $1.4 billion of annual dedicated funding for state and tribal fish and wildlife management agencies. RAWA was passed by the House of Representatives with a bipartisan vote during the 117th Congress. 

“We appreciate Chairman Westerman’s commitment to legislation that would improve the conservation of fish and wildlife. However, while the America’s Wildlife Habitat Conservation Act would focus on the importance of habitat, it stops short of dedicating the necessary funding for fish and wildlife management agencies that hunters and anglers have long sought through the advancement of the Recovering America’s Wildlife Act.” said Kaden McArthur, BHA Government Relations Manager. 

Backcountry Hunters & Anglers seeks to ensure North America's outdoor heritage of hunting and fishing in a natural setting, through education and work on behalf of wild public lands, waters, and wildlife. 

About Thomas Plank

Communications Manager for BHA

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