Oklahoma businesses organizations sign on
Caddo Creek Energy
Chapter 2 Hoke’s Designs
Conservation Coalition of Oklahoma
Core Extreme Sports
Eastside Quick Mart
Griffin and Associates
Indian & Environmental Law Group, PLLC
Krown Carpet Cleaning LLC
Latham Consulting Group
Lazer Ops OKC
Moon River Studio Art Gallery
Native Boy Productions
Oklahoma Automatic Door
Oklahoma State University
Red Clay Capital
Six Mile Line Winery
Straight from Heavenly Bakery
Summerside Vineyard and Winery
Tulsa Bird Dog Association
Vero’s Bounce House Rentals
BY KRYSTINA PHILLIPS
(Guest Opinion Appeared in The Oklahoman, Sept. 12, 2021)
–edited for clarification–
Oklahoma is celebrated for its diverse ecosystems and wildlife, but despite this diversity, the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation has identified no less than 310 Oklahoma wildlife species — encompassing every habitat and wildlife group, from insects to mammals — as “at risk.” This mirrors a nationwide trend in wildlife decline.
There is good news among this dire reality, though: A bold, bipartisan bill introduced in Congress seeks to address the wildlife crisis and, in the process, create jobs and facilitate economic growth. The Recovering America’s Wildlife Act (RAWA), HR 2773, led by Debbie Dingell (D-Mich.) and Jeff Fortenberry (R-Neb.), and the Senate version, SB 2372, introduced by Sen. Martin Heinrich, (D-N.M.) and Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), will direct $1.4 billion of existing federal revenue toward state and tribal efforts to help fish and wildlife species in decline.
More than 180 representatives from both sides of the aisle co-sponsored
the bill in the last session, including Oklahoma’s Tom Cole and Frank Lucas. And, for good reason. If passed, Oklahoma would receive about $16.7 million to restore habitat, remove invasive species, address diseases, reduce water pollution and mitigate climate change impacts for our state’s at-risk wildlife.
By KELLY BOSTIAN
The idea for annual $1.3 billion allocations now before Congress in the Recovering America’s Wildlife Act is not new.
A “blue-ribbon panel” that convened in 2015 chose a similar plan from among two dozen proposals. That panel represented the outdoor recreation retail and manufacturing sector, the energy industry, conservation organizations, and outdoor sporting groups.
The panel stated, emphatically “NOW” in its March 2016 final report, that $1.3 billion annual allocations are needed as a natural next step in this country’s wildlife conservation history. Indeed, the Act could mark the 21st Century’s contribution to the country’s history of major wildlife conservation initiatives.
Wildlife funds over the decades
Congress passed the Pittman-Robertson Act in 1937 to create a conservation fund financed by hunters and recreational shooters.
Carrying the model forward for sports fishing, the Dingell-Johnson Act of 1950, also called the Federal Aid in Sportfish Recreation Act, paved the way for fisheries management.
We need to act now to build a safety net for all fish and wildlife, create regulatory certainty for business and address the growing disconnect between people and nature. Failure to do so will mean that our generation will leave the nation’s rich natural assets impaired, rather than increased in worth.
Blue Ribbon Panel on Sustaining America’s Diverse Fish and Wildlife Resources (2016 Report)