Conservation bill includes incentives for farmers

A U.S. Senate bill encourages farmers and other landowners to increase their wildlife and habitat conservation.

Recovering America’s Wildlife Act co-sponsor Roy Blunt of Missouri said the legislation recognizes the need for immediate wildlife and habitat restoration calling for voluntary efforts from farmers.

“It establishes a new wildlife conservation and restoration program within the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to promote voluntary conservation efforts to work with private landowners and others,” he said.

Blunt said the RAWA goes beyond previous legislation that has been ‘helpful but not restorative’.

The bill would allocate $1.3 billion in annual funding for state led conservation efforts and $97.5 million for tribal nations, funded through the general fund of the treasury and fees and penalties for environmental violations.

Bill co-sponsor Martin Heinrich of New Mexico said this would be the largest investment in wildlife and habitat conservation in more than half a century.

“We can dramatically accelerate the recovery of 1,600 U.S. species already listed as threatened or endangered under the endangered species act,” Heinrich said. “And more importantly, we will protect many more [species] at risk plant, fish and wildlife species from ever being listed in the first place.”

The bipartisan legislation would fund efforts to protect more than 12,000 species of wildlife and plants in total.

Companion legislation in the House was introduced by Michigan’s Debbie Dingell and Nebraska’s Jeff Fortenberry.

Heinrich said the conservation effort will also fuel jobs in rural communities.

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