In a historic milestone for wildlife conservation, Recovering America’s Wildlife Act (H.R. 2773; RAWA)—a bipartisan bill to enhance wildlife conservation in the United States—was passed today by the U.S. House of Representatives. The bill is considered the most significant wildlife conservation bill in more than half a century, devoting $1.4 billion annually to locally-led efforts—including approximately $24 million annually to Nevada. RAWA has received bipartisan support from a long list of congressional representatives from all over the country and provides proactive, non-regulatory conservation benefits to every state, territory, and tribal lands and waters. 

“Passage of this bill in the House is a giant step forward for wildlife and a reaffirmation that conservation transcends party lines and politics,” said Tony Wasley, Director of the Nevada Department of Wildlife and President of the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies. “We sincerely thank Congresswoman Dingell for her outstanding leadership and thanks to all those supporting the advancement of the bill today on the floor. We look forward to working with everyone on both sides of the aisle and the Capitol to get this bill across the finish line as soon as possible so we can begin the work of proactive wildlife conservation and habitat protection at the scale that is needed.”  

Of the 231 Yeas for passage, three Nevada Representatives—Dina Titus, Susie Lee, and Steven Horsford—voted in favor of RAWA’s passage. The bill now makes its way to the Senate for a vote, where a similar version has already passed out of the EPW committee.

This bill will provide a wide range of benefits from using the funds to protect wild places and species to promoting the nexus that wildlife and ecosystem health have on human mental and physical health through access to recreation and nature. At least 15 percent of the funds will be used to help recovery efforts for species already designated as endangered or threatened under the Endangered Species Act. Up to 15 percent may be used for recreation and education, with the majority of funding used for conservation of priority species and habitats in Nevada.

The legislation comes at a critical time when wildlife in Nevada—and the entire country—needs urgent help and support. Since 1970, nearly 2.9 billion birds (30 percent of the total population) in the U.S. have disappeared, according to research published in the journal “Science.” However, through the implementation of state wildlife actions plans and aggressive wildlife conservation policy, these numbers are trending in a positive direction when we invest in wildlife and habitat. These state actions alone aren’t enough though – durable conservation relies on consistent and sustained funding to turn the tide. RAWA funding also will grow local economies by billions of dollars and create thousands of jobs, while also reversing the alarming trend in the country’s bird populations.

The Department thanks all delegates and congressional representatives for seeing the bill through to this point. This historic legislation provides a myriad of benefits for wildlife and wild spaces in Nevada and across the U.S., while also enhancing the public’s ability to enjoy the outdoors. This package will provide critical resources to the Department to conserve and protect all of Nevada’s wildlife and habitats.