Recovering America’s Wildlife Act

A significant, proactive conservation effort for imperiled species

What is the Recovering America’s Wildlife Act?

In July 2019, Rep. Debbie Dingell (D-Mich.) and Rep. Jeff Fortenberry (R-Neb.) introduced the Recovering America’s Wildlife Act in the House, a major step forward in securing $1.3 billion annually for state and tribal fish and wildlife agencies to undertake significant, proactive conservation of imperiled species.

The Growing Crisis

Despite the remarkable diversity of fish and wildlife in the U.S., populations of many species are in decline. Freshwater animals have been particularly hard hit and approximately 40 percent of the nation’s freshwater fish species are now rare or imperiled. Similarly, an astonishing three-quarters of the nation’s freshwater mussel species are imperiled or vulnerable. Without concerted attention, our growing wildlife crisis will almost certainly lead to many more species qualifying for protection under federal and state endangered species laws.

How would it work?

Investing in conservation makes a difference. State and federal wildlife agencies have been battling the decline of fish and wildlife for decades, but evolving threats and insufficient funds have limited the ability of these agencies to adequately address the crisis.

State Wildlife Action Plans (SWAPs) assess the health of fish and wildlife within each state and outline the conservation actions necessary to prevent them from becoming listed under the Endangered Species Act. Collectively, these plans have identified nearly 12,000 species nationwide that are in need of conservation attention and action. Currently, funding only covers a fraction of the need. As a result, states are forced to focus only on just a very few species, with many more at-risk and heading towards becoming endangered.

This bill would provide the funding needed to implement three-quarters of every state’s action plan. Conservation efforts could include reintroduction of imperiled species, conserving and restoring important habitat, fighting invasive species and disease, and more.  This would significantly reduce the number of species in decline and would ultimately prevent these species from needing protections afforded under the Endangered Species Act.

How will it benefit the fisheries profession?

This bill brings with it more employment opportunities for aquatic resource professionals in state agencies and in the private sector. Fisheries biologists and other resource professionals will be able to address the serious peril that aquatic species face in light of habitat degradation, water quality impairment, rising temperatures and reduced water availability, and other existential threats. Due to the increased and dedicated funding, state agencies will be to hire more fisheries professionals who will be better able to enact long-term, science-based programs to protect and restore our nation’s imperiled aquatic resources. Click here to see an estimate of how much your state would receive.

Support passage of the bill

Recovering and conserving America’s fish and wildlife will be no easy task.  Halting and reversing the current trend will require investment in widespread on the ground efforts by state and federal agencies along with local and private partners.  Now is the time to build on the successes of the past!

AFS is teaming up with the National Wildlife Federation, The Wildlife Society, and the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies, and others in support of the bill. We need the help of our members!

  1. Individuals: Sign a letter of support.
  2. Write a letter of support from your chapter in support of the bill.
  3. Call your member of Congress today and ask them to co-sponsor the bill! Here’s the current list of co-sponsors and some talking points with the important messages and details.
  4. Use social media to raise awareness using the hashtag #RecoverWildlife.
  5. Watch this webinar to get up to speed on the latest updates and grassroots engagement tools to help you and your unit work to support the Recovering America’s Wildlife Act.

Email Drue Winters to get involved.


Latest News about the Act

More than 1,000 Scientists Call for Proactive Conservation; Urge Passage of Recovering America’s Wildlife Act

For Immediate Release October 17, 2019 Contact: Drue Banta Winters, 504-220-7868, [email protected] Caroline Murphy, 301-897-9770 x 308, [email protected]  More than 1,000 Scientists Call for Proactive Conservation; Urge Passage of Recovering America’s Wildlife Act Today, more than 1,000 scientists from every state along with several territories and tribes sent a letter to members of Congress urging […]

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Recovering America’s Wildlife Act Reintroduction: A Major Step Forward for Fish and Wildlife Conservation

Contact: Caroline Murphy, [email protected]; Beth Beard, [email protected] Recovering America’s Wildlife Act Reintroduction: A Major Step Forward for Fish and Wildlife Conservation July 12, 2019 (Bethesda, MD) – The American Fisheries Society (AFS) and The Wildlife Society (TWS) are praising landmark legislation that seeks to transform fish and wildlife conservation across the nation. U.S. Representatives Debbie […]

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Webinar Recording: Recovering America’s Wildlife Act Update

Recovering America’s Wildlife Act Update from fisheries on Vimeo.

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Webinar on July 10: Recovering America’s Wildlife Act Update

Recovering America’s Wildlife Act Update Wednesday, July 10, 2019 2:00 pm Eastern Time Join us for a free webinar on July 10 to get up to speed on the latest updates and grassroots engagement tools to help you and your unit work to support the Recovering America’s Wildlife Act. Participants will be provided with background […]

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AFS and Other Groups Submit Letter to Congressional Hearing Supporting Biodiversity Protection

The American Fisheries Society, National Wildlife Federation, and the Wildlife Society submitted a letter for Chairman Huffman and Ranking Member McClintock on the Subcommittee on Water, Oceans, and Wildlife as well as a comprehensive report about the necessities of biodiversity protection and the upcoming Recovering America’s Wildlife Act to be re-introduced.

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AFS and Other Groups Request Recovering America’s Wildlife Act Hearing in Senate Committee

The Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works will hold a hearing on the Recovering America’s Wildlife Act entitled, “Examining Funding Needs for Wildlife Conservation, Recovery, and Management” on Thursday, November 15 at 10 a.m. Is your senator on the commiteee? If so, you and/or your Chapter should call to your Senator’s office to express your […]

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Lame Duck Session Offers Opportunity for End of Year RAWA Co-Sponsor Push

The Recovering America’s Wildlife Act is gaining momentum in Congress. The House bill, introduced last December, now has over 100 co-sponsors. The corresponding Senate bill, introduced in July, is expected to be the subject of an Environment and Public Works Committee hearing in November. There’s a critical difference in the House and Senate bills in […]

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Recovering America’s Wildlife Act Reaches 100 Co-Sponsors in House

The Recovering America’s Wildlife Act (H.R. 4647) – legislation that would dedicate $1.3 billion annually towards the conservation and monitoring of at-risk species at the state level – has just reached 100 co-sponsors in the House of Representatives. The American Fisheries Society has been working in concert with partner conservation organizations to secure co-sponsors. The […]

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Recovering America’s Wildlife Act Funding Source Also Targeted for National Parks Maintenance Backlog

This week, the House Natural Resources Committee advanced the Restore Our Parks and Public Lands Act, a bill that seeks to fund the maintenance backlog on national parks, wildlife refuges and public lands. The American Fisheries Society and The Wildlife Society urged the committee to consider funding for proactive fish and wildlife conservation. More than […]

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Recovering America’s Wildlife Act Introduced in Senate

The bipartisan Recovering America’s Wildlife Act, S.B. 3223, was introduced in the Senate on Tuesday by Sen. James Risch (R-Idaho), and cosponsored by Senators Joe Manchin (D-W. Va.); Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.), and Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.). The bill would authorize up to $1.3 billion annually, subject to appropriations, for state fish and wildlife agencies to support […]

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Capitol Hill Briefing Highlights Wildlife Crisis and the Recovering America’s Wildlife Act

The American Fisheries Society (AFS), The Wildlife Society (TWS), and the National Wildlife Federation (NWF) hosted a Congressional briefing on the status of U.S. fish and wildlife, along with a new funding mechanism that could address the current wildlife crisis. The event focused on a recently released report, Reversing America’s Wildlife Crisis, which shows that […]

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Interior Appropriations Update

The House Appropriations Interior, Environment and Related Agencies Subcommittee released a Fiscal Year 2019 funding bill last week that would restore funding to the U.S. Geological Survey’s Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Units (CRUs) and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s State and Tribal Wildlife Grants. President Trump’s FY19 budget proposal eliminated funding for the […]

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New Recovering America’s Wildlife Act Co-Sponsors and Reminder of May 22nd Deadline

The Recovering America’s Wildlife Act is gaining momentum in Congress.  As of this month, 52 members of Congress have joined Representatives Jeff Fortenberry (R.-Neb.) and Debbie Dingell (D.-Mich.), the lead sponsors of H.R. 4647, in co-sponsoring the bill. There’s more work to be done! We’re expecting a companion bill in the Senate in the near […]

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One-Third of American Wildlife at Increased Risk of Extinction

            New Report Details America’s Looming Wildlife Crisis, Highlights Ways to Help Species in Trouble Contact: Lacey McCormick, National Wildlife Federation, 512-610-7765, [email protected] Martha Wilson, American Fisheries Society, 202-445-9514, [email protected] WASHINGTON (March 29, 2018) – As many as one-third of U.S. wildlife species are at increased risk of extinction, according to […]

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New Report Details Looming U.S. Wildlife Crisis

America harbors a remarkable array of fish and wildlife, yet many are in serious trouble and up to one-third of U.S. species are at increased risk of extinction. Habitat loss and degradation, invasive species, disease, and pollution all pose threats to our wildlife—threats that are being amplified by a rapidly changing climate. Reversing America’s Wildlife […]

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Bipartisan Support for RAWA Grows as 36 Lawmakers Co-Sponsor Bill

36 U.S. lawmakers signed on to support Recovering America’s Wildlife Act (RAWA) this past week. AFS Executive Director Doug Austen made the rounds with Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation (CSF) President Jeff Crane and the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies on Capitol Hill. They met with Congressional Sportsmen’s Caucus Co-Chair Congressman Gene Green (D-Tex.) to secure sponsors for […]

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Update: Cosponsors of the Recovering America’s Wildlife Act

  There are 35 cosponsors of the Recovering America’s Wildlife Act. To find out if your representative is one click here

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Recovering America’s Wildlife Act briefing March 14th

  AFS Executive Director Doug Austen met with Congressional Sportsmen’s Caucus Co-Chair Congressman Gene Green and CSF president Jeff Crane on Capitol Hill on March 14th for a Recovering America’s Wildlife Act briefing.

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Hearing Held on Recovering America’s Wildlife Act

AFS is proud to support the Recovering America’s Wildlife Act (RAWA). The congressional hearing on February 15 was a great step toward advancing this important legislation to provide state fish and wildlife agencies with the resources they need to conduct proactive conservation and to reverse species population declines. Witness Bob Ziehmer, Senior Director of Conservation […]

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State Wildlife Action Plan Success Story: The Guadalupe Bass

The Recovering America’s Wildlife Act (RAWA) will secure $1.3 billion annually for state fish and wildlife agencies to undertake significant, proactive conservation of imperiled species. This will provide dedicated funding for State Wildlife Action Plans (SWAPs), which assess the health of fish and wildlife within each state and outline the conservation actions necessary to prevent […]

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Recovering America’s Wildlife Act: Chapter Presentation

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Support of the Recovering America’s Wildlife Act – A Guide to Grassroots Advocacy

Want to learn more about grassroots advocacy techniques?  Join us for a free webinar on February 22 to learn how you can help AFS support the Recovering America’s Wildlife Act in your state.  Participants will learn the fundamentals of a congressional “field visit”, the elements of a successful in-district meeting with a member of Congress, and how to prepare and deliver an “elevator speech” to spur a decision-maker into action!

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A Call to Action: Support Dedicated Funding to Recover America’s Fish and Wildlife

In mid-December, Rep. Jeff Fortenberry (R-Neb.) and Rep. Debbie Dingell (D-Mich.) introduced the Recovering America’s Wildlife Act in the House, a major step forward in securing $1.3 billion annually for state fish and wildlife agencies to undertake significant, proactive conservation efforts for imperiled species. If enacted, fisheries biologists and other resource professionals will be able […]

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PRESIDENT’S COMMENTARY: The AFS Role in High-Priority Policy Issues

By Steve McMullin, AFS President President Barack Obama once famously said, “Elections have consequences.” The first year of the Trump Administration clearly demonstrates the truth of that statement, and the consequences for fisheries and the environment are potentially “huge.” The Trump Administration’s approach to science and the environment during its first year in office included […]

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AFS Proud to Support Dedicated Funding to Recover America’s Fish and Wildlife

America’s fish and wildlife are in crisis.  Hundreds of species are facing risk of becoming threatened or endangered. States have determined that there are 12,000 species that are rare, declining, or vulnerable and in need of conservation, but current funding does not match the size of the problem. AFS, the National Wildlife Federation, The Wildlife […]

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