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Arkansas Game and Fish Commission Director Austin Booth applauded the passage of the Recovering America’s Wildlife Act on Tuesday by the U.S. House of Representatives. Booth compared HR 2773 as the modern-day equivalent of the Pittman-Robertson and Dingell-Johnson Acts. These two pieces of legislation have funded the conservation efforts that fueled the greatest comeback story for wildlife management in the history of the world, Booth said.
“The North American Model of Wildlife Conservation has proven that, with the commitment of outdoorsmen, hunters and anglers, we can reverse the trend of many declining game species,” Booth explained. “RAWA is a once in a generation opportunity to increase funding for all species, game and nongame alike. It is our duty to our children to leave our wild places better than we find them, so that they can one day tell us about how valuable conservation is to their lives as well.”
Each state has developed a wildlife action plan to identify species in need of additional efforts to prevent further population declines, but most states don’t have adequate funding to implement the strategies. Some species, such as eastern collared lizards, diana fritillary butterflies (Arkansas’s state butterfly), and a variety of songbirds, may not be recognizable by most Arkansans and often get left out of wildlife management conversations, but they actually are very important ecologically and serve as indicators of good habitat. When these species thrive, so do many others that are more recognizable, such as quail and turkeys.
Other species on Arkansas’s Wildlife Action Plan include game animals such as northern bobwhite and the American black duck. The plan also includes many pollinator species essential to agricultural crops throughout The Natural State. According to the Natural Resources Conservation Service, three-fourths of the world’s flowering plants and approximately 35 percent of the world’s food crops depend on animal pollinators. Good habitat benefits a whole host of wildlife species and provides other benefits such as improved water quality.
Rep. French Hill, who voted in favor of this bipartisan legislation, explained that the legislation will dedicate money to state fish and wildlife agencies to conserve rare and declining species.
“To me, being a conservationist means protecting our natural environment through reasonable and realistic means, and this bipartisan bill will provide funds to support state agencies like the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission in state- and locally-led conservation efforts for wildlife and habitat,” Hill said. “June is Great Outdoors Month, and I can think of no better way to celebrate than by supporting this bill that builds on previous successes like the Great American Outdoors Act President Trump signed into law in 2020.”
The Recovering America’s Wildlife Act is supported by more than 1,500 organizations including the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission, Arkansas Wildlife Federation, Backcountry Hunters and Anglers, The Nature Conservancy, Ducks Unlimited and the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation.
RAWA now goes to the Senate, where it is listed as Senate Bill 2372 and is co-sponsored by Arkansas Sen. John Boozman. Visit https://ournatureusa.com/ for more information about RAWA.