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Fox News (Op-Ed): Democrats and Republicans can work together to save America’s wildlife


At a time when it has become difficult to find many areas of
agreement in Washington, the outdoors have proven to be a real uniting force.

The two of us were proud to help lead the bipartisan effort
last year to pass the historic Great American Outdoors Act into law, which is
already helping us tackle the longstanding infrastructure backlog at our
national parks and public lands. We are now teaming up to make similar historic
progress on species recovery and wildlife habitat.

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The abundance of many species that we hunt and fish today is
the direct result of collaborative work financed by bedrock conservation laws
like Pittman-Robertson and Dingell-Johnson. Yet despite the incredible
successes of these programs—particularly with game species like elk and mule
deer in New Mexico and sportfish like black bass in Missouri— and the successes
of the Endangered Species Act in preventing hundreds of species from going
extinct, it’s been clear for decades that thousands of species of plants and
animals are still declining or even heading towards extinction.

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, “emergency room” 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. Our
bill, the Recovering America’s Wildlife Act, offers us a constructive path

This legislation would be the most significant investment in
wildlife conservation in a generation—it would fund proactive, voluntary
conservation efforts to address the nation’s wildlife crisis. These efforts
could and often would include partnerships with private landowners.

The Recovering America’s Wildlife Act establishes a new
program, the Wildlife Conservation and Restoration Program, within the U.S.
Fish and Wildlife Service to promote voluntary conservation efforts to restore
and protect at-risk, threatened, or endangered species. This new program would
provide approximately $1.3 billion annually to states, U.S. territories, and
Tribes for activities related to proactive and collaborative habitat
restoration efforts to increase wildlife populations and prevent species from
ever needing to be listed under the Endangered Species Act.

These projects will create substantial economic benefits,
including good-paying jobs in rural communities. They will preserve outdoor
recreation activities like hunting, fishing, and wildlife viewing that support
millions of additional jobs all across our country. And they will help us
restore healthy habitat for the more than 12,000 species in our country that
are currently identified as species of greatest conservation need.

We’re proud of the broad, bipartisan coalition of sportsmen
and sportswomen, conservationists, scientists, states, Tribes, and wildlife
advocates who are calling on Congress to pass RAWA. The bill has garnered
support from all fifty states, Tribes, and nearly 2,000 organizations across
the country, such as the National Wildlife Federation, Ducks Unlimited, the
Boone and Crockett Club, the Association of Fish & Wildlife Agencies, the
Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation, Backcountry Hunters and Anglers, NRDC,
the Audubon Society, and the Nature Conservancy.

The numbers of wildlife currently facing down threats can be
daunting. But just think how dire things must have seemed many decades ago when
sportsmen came together to establish a tax on themselves and to voluntarily
limit harvest in order to recover the game they loved to hunt. We should follow
their example if we want to successfully recover healthy populations of
wildlife species—from bob-white quail and meadow larks in Missouri to Gila
trout and Southwestern willow flycatchers in New Mexico.

If we can pass the Recovering America’s Wildlife Act into
law, 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. We will pass on the full complement of our natural heritage as well as
traditions like hunting, fishing, and wildlife viewing to future Americans. We
hope all of our colleagues and our constituents will join us in backing this
effort to pay it forward.

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