Under a federal proposal, Pennsylvania would have received $20 million a year for wildlife conservation efforts, but that funding has not made it into the federal government’s spending plan.
“Unfortunately, the Recovering America’s Wildlife Act was not included in the spending bill, which means it’s not good for industry, it’s not good for wildlife and it’s not is not good for the agencies responsible for managing these species,” said Bryan Burhans, director of the Pennsylvania Game Commission.
The comprehensive bill would have earmarked $1.3 billion a year for state and wildlife agencies across the United States. Pennsylvania’s money would have been spent on managing 684 species of fish and wildlife.
Each wildlife agency has developed its own wildlife action plan.
“It’s basically a plan to recover those species that are in great need of conservation as well as threatened and endangered species,” Burhans said. move the needle and work to remove species from the list or reclaim species so that they no longer need to be on the list.
The funding hurts industries that build roads, construct buildings and harvest timber, he said.
Some of the species he is concerned about range from goshawks to dwindling numbers of bats that struggle with fungi like white nose syndrome.
“We will continue with a good fight. It’s a fight that’s been going on for decades,” Burhans said.
Tim Schaeffer, executive director of the state’s Fish and Boat Commission, said the proposal received bipartisan support.
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The funding goal, Schaeffer said, is something everyone should want.
“Keep common species common and move species off the endangered species list through proactive conservation,” he said.
An example is the reintroduction of blue catfish by the Fish and Boat Commission. In October, his agency reintroduced blue catfish fry to the Ohio River in Pittsburgh. The fish, which weigh around 100 pounds, were native to the area 125 years ago but died from pollution.
Funding from this bill would help expand programs like this as well as the agency’s work with mussels that filter and purify waterways, Schaeffer said.
Since 2005, 23 species have been removed from Pennsylvania’s endangered species list, and RAWA has reportedly increased the “pace at which we work on species at risk,” Schaeffer said.
Sean Saville, campaign director for the Alliance for America’s Fish and Wildlife, said the RAWA legislation has moved stakeholders toward a common vision for conservation funding.
“This has been in the works for decades and something that has really gained popularity and bipartisan support in both houses of Congress over the past six years due to the broad applicability of this solution to conservation funding. wildlife across the country,” he said.
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“That’s one of the most frustrating parts of this job,” Saville said of not seeing the legislation go through with it. “We will live to fight another day and hope to do so at the next Congress.”
Brian Whipkey is the outdoor columnist for USA TODAY Network sites in Pennsylvania. Contact him email@example.com and sign up for our weekly Go Outdoors PA newsletter on the home page of this website under your login name. Follow him on Facebook@whipkeyoutdoors.
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