Recovering America’s Wildlife Act
Business and conservation interests support dedicated funding to recover Oklahoma’s wildlife
Our state has been blessed with a diverse array of fish and wildlife. While some of these species are thriving, many more are facing increasing challenges and are in steep decline – increasing their possibility of becoming endangered. Oklahoma has identified nearly 250 species in need of proactive conservation action.
At the request of Congress, every state has developed a State Wildlife Action Plan to assess the health of their state’s fish and wildlife and outline conservation actions necessary to sustain them. Collectively, these action plans have identified these 12,000 species and formed a nationwide strategy to prevent them from becoming endangered. However, the current federal State Wildlife Grants program is funded at only a fraction of what states need to conserve these species. State wildlife biologists estimate that it would cost $1.3 billion annually to implement 75 percent of these actions. The magnitude of the solution must match the magnitude of the challenge.
Oklahoma is a wonderful and biologically diverse state. Hunting and fishing have a strong history in this state and for decades now hunters and anglers, through their license fees and the purchase of hunting and fishing equipment, have ensured good management of the state’s wildlife resources. Today we face a new conservation crisis as emerging diseases, invasive species, habitat loss, and extreme weather threaten many wildlife populations at a scale inconceivable just a few decades ago.
This growing wildlife crisis poses a threat to America’s vibrant outdoor economy. Hunters, anglers, birders, hikers, campers, and backyard wildlife watchers have created a fast growing outdoor consumer base that depends on healthy wildlife populations. Today, the Oklahoma outdoor economy contributes $8.4 billion in consumer spending annually, creates approximately 95 thousand direct jobs, $2.4 billion in direct wages, and generates nearly $585 million in state, and local tax revenue.
Further, by preventing the decline of species so that they do not require the stricter protections of the Endangered Species Act (ESA), other businesses will be able to operate with more regulatory certainty and reduced risk. As the decline of numerous species and their habitats across the country worsens, preemptive action can reverse this trend and keep species from the critical, yet often costly, “emergency room” measures required by the ESA. Proactive conservation is good for wildlife, good for taxpayers, and good for business. We support the protection of our nation’s precious fish and wildlife heritage by supporting efforts like the Recovering America’s Wildlife Act to direct dedicated funding into the Wildlife Conservation and Restoration Program.