Jefferson City, Mo. — Historic investment in wildlife conservation could be on its way to Missouri.
A bill, named the Recovering America’s Wildlife Act, passed the U.S. House of Representatives last month 231-190. The bill now heads to the U.S. Senate, being sponsored by Sen. Roy Blunt as he serves in his last term.
The bill has bipartisan support in the Senate, with 35 senators sponsoring the bill.
Missouri would receive roughly $21 million to restore habitat, remove invasive species and help around 580 species of concern. Species of concern include the greater prairie chicken, lake sturgeon, and swamp rabbits, according to the Conservation Federation of Missouri (CFM).
The CFM is a private group that represents citizen conservationists and often advocates for conservation efforts. The federation works with members of the Missouri general assembly, Missouri’s congressional representatives, the Missouri Department of Conservation and the Missouri Department of Natural Resources.
The Recovering America’s Wildlife Act is proactive, as it will also help plant and animal species before they are classified as endangered species. This means many conservation efforts that help animals of all kinds in the state. According to the CFM, the bill will prevent extinctions while keeping common species common.
Tyler Schwartze, executive director at the CFM, hasn’t seen conservation investment at this scale in his lifetime.
“Anything that we can do now, to keep these animals and species off the endangered species list is a huge win for conservation, not only in Missouri, but across the entire nation. It’s the most significant investment in wildlife conservation in a generation.” Schwartze said.
If signed into law, the bill would be the largest conservation-based bill since the Endangered Species Act of 1973.
The bill will also give money to other states for their conservation recovery plans as well. This makes the Recovering America’s Wildlife Act the most significant conservation legislation the United States has seen in just shy of 50 years.
“Protecting habitats and wildlife is not only important to states like Missouri – with some of the best hunting, fishing, and outdoor recreation in the country – it’s important to communities all across the nation,” Blunt said. “There is strong bipartisan, bicameral support for the bill and I am hopeful we’ll be able to get it to the president’s desk this Congress.”
$1.4 billion would be annually dedicated to helping fish and wildlife species in decline. $97.5 million would also go to assisting conservation efforts from Native American groups.
“The bipartisan passage of the Recovering America’s Wildlife Act affirms that there is consensus across the political spectrum that we can, and we must, prevent extinctions from our backyards to the backcountry,” Collin O’Mara, president and CEO of the National Wildlife Federation said. “Inaction is the ally of extinction, and the time to act is now.”
Strong bipartisan support strengthens the bill’s chances of surviving the Senate and landing on President Biden’s desk to be signed into law
“I want my grandchildren and all future generations growing up in the Show-Me State to be able to see monarchs in their backyard and hear the call of whip-poor-will as I have,” said Schwartze in a press release. “Now that the bill heads to the Senate, we are hopeful Senators Blunt and Hawley can do everything they can to aid this historic legislation over the finish line this summer.”
Featured Image: Sen. Roy Blunt at the Missouri Times’ Statesman of the Year Event on February 23, 2022 in Jefferson City, Mo. Blunt is sponsoring a conservation bill which heads to the U.S. Senate. (Jessalynn Cairer Photography)