by Greg Walcher, Senior Policy Fellow
As Appearing in The Daily Sentinel
Folks who worry about the loss of threatened and endangered species should be relieved to know that Congress is finally considering an entirely new approach — creating a new federal fund, and a new committee. A bipartisan group led by Reps. Debbie Dingell (D-Mich.) and Jeff Fortenberry (R-Neb.) have introduced the “Recovering America’s Wildlife Act,” which would dedicate nearly $1.4 billion for conservation of declining fish and wildlife species.
The bill enjoys widespread support, largely because it would empower state wildlife experts, rather than federal agencies. A previous version would have used energy revenues, but that rankled anti-energy congressmen, so the new version just allocates money from the general treasury, off-budget and exempt from appropriations.
Sponsors say this approach is more likely to recover endangered species than previous attempts, because it relies on the expertise of states. It would actually prioritize projects based on state wildlife plans, and it would pass the money directly to states. That approach has tremendous merit, because state wildlife agencies know more about their species, and can put more resources on the ground faster than distant bureaucracies. Dictates from Washington actually hamper state recovery efforts in many cases, as in Colorado’s experience with lynx and sage grouse.