US House passes wildlife protection act; next stop the US Senate
The US House of Representatives today passed the bipartisan Recovering America’s Wildlife Act (RAWA), which includes earmarking an estimated $60 million annually to Hawai’i to assist in managing wildlife species in greatest need of protection.
US Rep. Ed Case of Hawaiʻi said the funding would help the state implement its wildlife action plan that works to save critically endangered species and preserve uniquely diverse ecosystems.
“RAWA will help save countless species that would otherwise be lost,” Rep. Case said.
But first, the landmark legislation (H.R. 2733) has to pass the US Senate.
RAWA would authorize mandatory federal funding of $1.3 billion annually to states to assist programs across the country to conserve, restore and protect wildlife and their habitats.
Ulalia Woodside, Executive Director of The Nature Conservancy Hawai’i and Palmyra, said Hawai‘i has less than one percent of the land of the United States, but is home to nearly half of the country’s endangered species, with climate change exacerbating the situation.
“The Recovering America’s Wildlife Act will provide much-needed resources to help prevent the extinction of our rarest forest birds and to fund important recovery work across Hawaii’s landscapes and ecosystems,” Woodside said.
Under current law, on average, individual endangered species on the mainland receive 10 times more federal funding than those in Hawai‘i, said Case, who worked in committee to revise the formula to direct more funding to states like Hawai‘i that are home to species of the greatest conservation need.
Of the nearly 1,600 endangered species listed under the Endangered Species Act today, almost 500 are found in Hawai‘i. Just last year, nine more of Hawaii’s endemic species were officially reclassified as extinct.
“The world is in the middle of an extinction crisis, and, unfortunately, Hawai‘i is at its center,” Case said. “As a result of climate change, invasive species and other environmental stressors, Hawai‘i has become the invasive species capital of the world.”
RAWA focuses on preventative measures to conserve and restore the nation’s fish and wildlife, helping to avoid more restrictive “emergency room” protections of the Endangered Species Act. This approach to conservation supports the outdoor recreation economy and provides regulatory certainty for farmers, small businesses and industry.
A RAWA fact sheet said:
- Bird populations have declined almost 30% in the United States and Canada since 1970.
- Over 40% of American’s freshwater fish are at risk of extinction.
- State agencies have identified 12,000 species of wildlife in need of conservation assistance