Here’s how to protect 1,300 endangered animal species in Texas
American wildlife is in crisis. More than a third of wildlife species in the United States are threatened with extinction. This loss of biodiversity is not only a threat to the species themselves; it is a threat to the communities and economies that depend on them.
Congress may soon pass the Recovering America’s Wildlife Act, a bipartisan bill that will meaningfully address the crisis in our wildlife populations. This bill will provide nearly $1.4 billion to support local efforts to help declining fish, bird and other wildlife populations.
The bill is sponsored by Dallas Congressmen Marc Veasey and Colin Allred. This law would provide more than $50 million to Texas a year that we could use to help conserve the state’s 1,300 endangered species – from Guadalupe bass to horned lizards to northern bobwhite. Funds will come from existing revenue streams, requiring no new taxes, and will be directed by national wildlife agencies to local priorities.
Funding could be used by private landowners to reintroduce native wildlife or restore habitat. It could also benefit the public by adding to state wildlife management areas or parks where at-risk animals and plants are kept. A portion of the funds would be earmarked for federally listed endangered species like whooping cranes and sea turtles. However, the main purpose of the bill is to prevent existing wildlife populations from declining to levels so low that protection under the Endangered Species Act is needed. Keeping wildlife populations healthy and preventing them from becoming extinct will save taxpayers money in the long run.
Texas has a variety of landscapes, including forests, grasslands, deserts, rivers, and beaches. Every part of the state has at-risk wildlife species that could benefit from Recovering America’s Wildlife Act. The funds could help protect habitat to grow quail and wild turkey populations, restore native grasslands used by declining songbirds and pollinators, and help programs maintain pronghorn and bighorn sheep populations. ‘America.
The Recovering America’s Wildlife Act is a bipartisan effort. It passed the committees of both houses of Congress with strong support, but a final effort is needed to schedule floor votes in the House and Senate. Now is the time for Congress to pass this bill, which will allow our children and grandchildren to continue to discover and enjoy our state’s amazing wildlife.
Suzanne Scott is the state director of The Nature Conservancy in Texas. She wrote this for The Dallas Morning News.