BOISE, Idaho (KIFI/KIDK) - "A game changer." That's how Idaho Fish and Game Department Wildlife Diversity Manager Rex Sallabanks describes the "Recovering America's Wildlife Act."
The proposal was introduced by Idaho Senator James Risch and West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin in the U.S. Senate Tuesday. The legislation would direct additional federal money to states for fish and wildlife species with the highest needs. A House version of the bill was introduced last December.
The act would redirect $1.3 billion annual from existing royalties from the development of energy and minerals on federal lands and waters to the Wildlife Restoration Program. The program is an account that already exists within the Pittman-Robertson Wildlife Restoration Program.
If it becomes law, the Idaho Fish and Game Department said it intended to use its share to implement the Idaho State Wildlife Action Plan. That plan provides strategic direction to use non-regulatory, action-based solutions to conserve fish and wildlife. It would emphasize more than 200 species of greatest conservation need, including sage-grouse, wolverine, and wild steelhead.
"The Recovering America's Wildlife Act would allow the Idaho Fish and Game Commission to devote additional resources to species of concern without detracting from others. That, in turn, would benefit the management of all fish and wildlife in Idaho and the citizens who enjoy it through better conservation and also enhancing the rich tradition of hunting and fishing," Fish and Game Commission Chairman Derick Attebury said.
Sallabanks said the act could be the most important conservation legislation in a generation. For the past 75 years, wildlife conservation has been primarily funded through fishing, hunting and trapping license fees, as well as excise taxes on hunting and fishing equipment.
"Species identified as being in the greatest need of conservation in Idaho's State Wildlife Action Plan need our attention in order to prevent them from becoming listed as threatened or endangered under the Endangered Species Act," said Sallabanks.