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Eighty percent: That’s the amount of states’ wildlife conservation budgets that comes from hunting- and fishing-related fees, including licenses and taxes on gear. Unfortunately, the number of people who do those activities has been declining for years. That decline has left state governments without the resources they need to protect endangered species, or the motivation to spend them conserving much of anything but the game animals and fish that attract sportspeople into the outdoors.
The Recovering America’s Wildlife Act aims to change that in a big way. RAWA, as it’s known, would provide state wildlife departments with a total of nearly $1.4 billion a year. That’s about 75 percent of the funds needed to sustain their Wildlife Action Plans, which outline how the states protect endangered species within their borders, and mandate that those states contribute their own money to the tune of one quarter of the federal cash provided. The states would have wide latitude on how to spend it, on the condition that they don’t discriminate between species that are economically valuable and those that aren’t.
Unlike a lot of recent wildlife legislation, RAWA has broad bipartisan backing—as of the time of writing, it’s already passed the House and has 16 Republican cosponsors in the Senate. But anything can happen in a midterm election year, and public backing is still important. Find your senators at usa.gov/elected-officials and send them a note expressing your support.