Let's Get to Work for Arkansas' Wildlife!
Arkansas has been blessed with a bounty of fish and wildlife, managed and protected through Amendment 35 to the State Constitution, creating the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission (AGFC). However, while our AGFC has had great success in restoring game species that were once in decline, many non-game species are facing increasing challenges, declining across the spectrum from songbirds to reptiles to amphibians. However, the Recovering America’s Wildlife Act (H.R. 5650), introduced by Representatives Don Young (R-AK) and Debbie Dingell (D-MI), would help avert this crisis by dedicating $1.3 billion annually nationwide, from existing revenue from energy development on federal lands and waters, to states to solve this conservation challenge.
Arkansas’ share of this $1.3 billion is estimated to be around $14.7 million per year. That can be significant in keeping species of conservation concern off the endangered species list!
With support from all of us and leadership from members of Congress to direct dedicated funding for proactive conservation measures, these species at high risk of becoming endangered can be spared.
As members of the Arkansas Wildlife Federation, we need you to reach out to your U.S. Representative and ask them to co-sponsor this non-partisan bill and support our nation’s precious fish and wildlife. WE'VE MADE IT EASY FOR YOU TO SEND A MESSAGE TO YOUR U.S. Representative. Simply click the “TAKE ACTION” box and enter your name and zip code. A message of support will be sent to your Arkansas representatives. (Feel free to add a personal message to the prepared narrative as well)
This new funding would be mandated to target species identified in the Arkansas Wildlife Action Plan (AWAP) with priorities determined by a database of scientific knowledge of wildlife. A total of 369 species of greatest conservation need (SGCN) are addressed in the context of 45 terrestrial habitats and 18 aquatic habitats in 7 ecoregions in Arkansas.
Game species like white-tailed deer, wild turkey, bear and more, have been saved from declining populations because of dedicated funding through hunting and fishing license fees and excise taxes on hunting and fishing. Despite the success with many game species, there has never been significant investment in the conservation of the full diversity of wildlife species. Non-game species now face threats to their very survival from habitat fragmentation, climate impacts, invasive species, and disease. Many times, all that is left is protection under the Endangered Species Act. No one wins when a species is declared endangered! The Endangered Species Act was originally intended to be an “emergency” measure to be used in tragic situations. Once a species reaches dire circumstances, it is much harder and more expensive to recover. Regulatory obstacles make doing business more difficult for farmers, ranchers, developers, builders, and others. A non-regulatory and proactive approach to conservation is good for wildlife, good for taxpayers and good for business. H.R. 5650 provides funding to slow or stop this cycle of loss.
The GOOD NEWS is this wildlife funding is not new taxes but is capturing existing revenue from oil and gas receipts.
The Arkansas Wildlife Action Plan, mandated by Congress for all states to develop for determining species of greatest conservation, implements the priorities determined by a database of scientific knowledge of wildlife of greatest conservation need. Arkansas’ SGCN are addressed in the context of 45 terrestrial habitats and 18 aquatic habitats in 7 ecoregions. The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission (AGFC) is responsible for requesting proposals and administering State Wildlife Grants to support the implementation of AWAP. The competitive grants are distributed specifically for the protection and management of nongame species in greatest need of conservation identified in the AWAP. The grant process provides state and federal agencies and other conservation partners the means to efficiently and effectively fit individual and coordinated conservation efforts across the state. (The AWAP can be reviewed at: www.agfc.com/species/Pages/SpeciesWildlifeActionPlan.aspx )
This successful conservation foundation is provided by the State and Tribal Wildlife Grant program. The problem lies in program funding. A survey of all State Wildlife Actions Plans revealed that $1.3 billion annually is what it would cost to implement 75% of every state’s plan. With 25% match from states, $1.3 billion would be sufficient to implement State Wildlife Action Plans and hasten the recovery of thousands of species. (Current funding is only 4.65% of what is necessary to conserve our nation’s species of greatest conservation need.)
Long-term pressures (and political attacks) on the Endangered Species Act would be reduced. The states would be held accountable through the implementation and oversight of the state’s Wildlife Action Plans, which will ensure that the resources are spent appropriately on the highest conservation priorities. The funding would be allocated to each state and territory, per an existing formula, from existing federal royalties from oil/gas/coal extraction onshore and offshore, similar (and complimentary) to the Land and Water Conservation Fund. Arkansas’ share would be about 1.7% or $14.7 million.
By clicking on the “TAKE ACTION” box below and completing the form you can help convince your US Representative to co-sponsor and support H.R. 5650, critical to the future of wildlife in Arkansas and across the Nation. By entering your information and zip code, your message will be sent to your Arkansas representative.
Give us a call if you have any questions about this vital legislation!
Newsletter Coordinator and District Director
Arkansas Wildlife Federation