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Blunt advocates for wildlife recovery bill on Capitol Hill

  

U.S. Senator Roy Blunt urged his colleagues to advance a bipartisan effort to invest in wildlife conservation in Missouri and across the country this week. 

The Recovering America’s Wildlife Act (RAWA), co-sponsored by Blunt, would send an estimated $21 million to the Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) each year to aid species of concern. The department would use the funds to bolster existing recovery plans, with 15 percent earmarked for species already considered endangered or threatened. The bill would distribute $1.3 billion across the country if enacted in its current form.  

Blunt, a Republican, appeared before the U.S. Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works Wednesday. He noted Missouri currently receives $1 million annually from the federal government for wildlife recovery and noted potential benefits extending beyond conservation.   

“Enactment of this legislation into law would boost our economy, create more outdoor recreation opportunities, provide regulatory certainty to landowners across the country who otherwise are facing costly and burdensome impacts of potential threatened and endangered species listing, and conserve our natural heritage for future generations,” Blunt said. “A significant part of the goal here is to work with these state agencies, so the federal government never has to be involved in an endangered species situation as they work hard to do what they can to be sure that they never get into that situation.”

Blunt sponsored the bill alongside Democratic Senator Martin Heinrich of New Mexico. The effort received broad bipartisan support, with 32 co-sponsors in the Senate and dozens of House members — including Missouri Congressmen Billy Long and Emanuel Cleaver — signing on to a House version

The measure is also a priority of the MDC. Director Sara Parker Pauley told lawmakers her department was working with landowners and other partners to restore the state’s imperiled prairie land and expand its ecosystem. 

“These projects do not happen in one or two years; to restore a prairie ecosystem takes decades of protective habitat management and the staff and financial resources to make it happen,” Pauley said. “Simply put, conservation success does not happen overnight. It requires long-term planning and dedicated funding, which this act will provide to state agencies — agencies with a proven track record of restoring species.”

The bill has received support from several conservation entities, including the Conservation Federation of Missouri, National Wildlife Federation, and Bass Pro Shops CEO Johnny Morris

The committee did not take action on the bill Wednesday.

Blunt is not seeking re-election in 2022 to the seat he’s held for more than a decade. Several contenders have thrown their hats into the ring to compete for the spot.