(The Center Square) – A bill led by Missouri Republican Senator Roy Blunt and backed by three representatives from the state’s Congress would raise approximately $ 20 million annually in increased funding for “wildlife sanctuaries” throughout Show Me State where the outdoor industry supports approximately 100,000 jobs and generates more than $ 12 billion in annual economic impact.
“The broad, bipartisan support for this bill shows the importance of wildlife and habitat conservation to states across the country,” said Blunt. “Missouri is no exception, with some of the best hunting, fishing, and recreational activities in the country.”
The Recovering America’s Wildlife Act of 2021 (RAWA) provides nearly $ 1.4 billion for the “Conservation or Restoration of Wildlife and Plant Species in Great Need of Conservation” (SGCNs).
The RAWA House Bill was passed in April by US MP Debbie Dingell, D-Mich. and has drawn 125 co-sponsors, including three of the eight Missouri-Reps. Emanuel Cleaver, D-Kansas City, Bill Long, R-Springfield and Vicky Hartzler, R-Harrisonville.
The Senate RAWA bill was jointly filed in July by Blunt and US Senator Martin Heinrich, D-New Mexico. It has 27 co-sponsors, including 14 GOP senators, 12 Democratic senators, and the independent U.S. Senator Angus King of Maine.
The Senate version can still be heard as the House of Representatives bill advances in the Chamber’s Ways & Means Committee. Blunt called on the Senate on Friday to deal with RAWA.
“I am encouraged by the growing support we have for the law and I hope it will soon be reviewed by the Environment and Public Works Committee,” he said, noting that RAWA is supported by more than 1,500 organizations, the state Representing fish and wildlife authorities, as well as anglers, hunters, conservation groups, industry associations, and corporations across the country and in Missouri.
Among other things, RAWA seeks to accelerate the recovery of 1,600 species in the US that are classified as threatened or endangered under the Endangered Species Act by requiring states to adopt state wildlife action plans to restore SGCN populations.
The bill would increase annual funding from $ 60 million to $ 1.3 billion for state plans and provide tribal states with $ 97.5 million annually to fund conservation plans for approximately 140 million acres.
If adopted, RAWA would be the second major Conservative package passed by Congress since the Great American Outdoors Act was passed in 2019, which provides $ 900 million annually to the Land & Water Conservation Fund.
Despite bipartisan support, similar RAWA laws in recent years stumbled upon Conservatives’ insistence that hunters and anglers, not taxpayers, should do more to protect nature, lack of clarity on offsetting bill spending, concerns about state-centered funding and criticism, on which the plan focuses Fauna (animals) at the expense of flora (plants).
The Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) claims RAWA would add more than $ 20 million in additional funding to its annually Comprehensive nature conservation strategy outlines the projects in 209 “areas with protection options”.
These include the efforts of the MDC with the US Geological Survey (USGS), the US Fish & Wildlife Service and St. Louis County to remove 90% of the 70,000 Asian carp from Creve Coeur Lake.
MDC maintains RAWA’s “proactive approach” in SGCN-focused plans that will lead to “avoiding the need for state listing under the Endangered Species Act”.
According to the USGS, Missouri has approximately 1,163 million acres of waterfront consisting of nearly 900 public lakes, 486 miles of the Mississippi River, 553 miles of the Missouri River, nearly 26,000 miles of other permanent streams, more than 39,000 miles of intermittent streams, and approximately 500,000 private lakes.
Each year, 1.1 million anglers in Missouri generate more than $ 2.1 billion in the state and about 600,000 people who hunt and observe 2.2 million wildlife on the state land generate $ 3.6 billion each, according to the MDC Year.