One of the reasons we respect Sen. Roy Blunt is his willingness to reach across the aisle on issues important to Missouri and the country.
His support of the Recovering Americas Wildlife Act (RAWA) is another example of a bipartisan approach that could deliver a huge win for conservation efforts here and nationwide.
Blunt and Sen. Martin Heinrich, D-N.M., introduced RAWA in July. The legislation would provide $1.39 billion in dedicated annual funding for proactive, collaborative efforts by the states and tribes to recover wildlife species at risk, restore essential habitat and implement key conservation strategies as outlined in each state’s Wildlife Action Plan.
If the bill passes, it would represent the largest, most significant investment in wildlife and habitat conservation in a generation, according to its sponsors.
It would provide an extra $20 million a year for Missouri conservation efforts, according to the St. Louis Post Dispatch. The Missouri Conservation Department would direct those funds toward habitat work, education efforts, monitoring species with the greatest conservation need and incentives for landowners.
We appreciate Blunt’s leadership in this area. He’s right when he says our state has some of the best hunting, fishing and outdoor recreation our country has to offer. It’s imperative we preserve it. It is imperative that Congress does more to protect and conserve species that are facing the threat of extinction.
As demand for natural resources grows and the trend of growing urbanization and sprawl encroaches on wildlife habitat, efforts to support declining wildlife populations are needed now more than ever.
A 2018 report found that one-third of all U.S. wildlife species already are imperiled or vulnerable — and nearly 1 million species worldwide are at risk of extinction.
According to the National Wildlife Federation, habitat loss, climate change, invasive species, disease and severe weather all have taken a severe toll on birds, mammals, fish, amphibians, reptiles, butterflies and bees. All types of wildlife are declining — in many cases dramatically.
Species decline is occurring in our state. According to the U.S. Geological Survey, Missouri has hundreds of flora and fauna listed as “species of greatest conservation need,” including the eastern and Ozark hellbender salamanders, the eastern big-eared bat and Mead’s milkweed, to name just a few.
Blunt said current federal aid is “severely insufficient and fails to provide the resources required to meet all of these needs.”
That’s why we need a solution that matches the magnitude of the wildlife crisis. RAWA is that solution and the kind of investment that ensures future generations will enjoy the wildlife we love today.
Congress should follow Blunt’s lead and pass RAWA.