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Significant wildlife conservation bill passes U.S. House

U.S. House members voted recently to pass the Recovering America’s Wildlife Act, landmark legislation that will prevent extinctions and change Mississippi’s wildlife for generations to come.
If it becomes law, Mississippi will be eligible for over $15M annually to help at-risk fish and wildlife. Species include the Northern bobwhite quail, the pallid sturgeon, lesser scaup, red-cockaded woodpecker, and the silver-haired bat.
“Recovering America’s Wildlife Act is the most important piece of wildlife conservation legislation in the past 50 years. Wildlife in our state and across the country are in crisis, and this forward-looking, bipartisan bill will provide the resources needed to tackle the problem at scale without new taxes or regulations,” said Ashlee Ellis Smith, CEO of Mississippi Wildlife Federation.
Mississippi’s delegate voting in favor of Recovering America’s Wildlife Act was Democrat Bennie Thompson, with Republicans Trent Kelly and Stephen Palazzo voting against RAWA despite Palazzo being an original co-sponsor of the bill, and Michael Guest abstaining from the vote.
“We applaud Congressman Thompson for supporting the legislation and for Congressman Palazzo’s original support of the bill, and are confident of its passage in the Senate, thanks in great part to our two Republican Senators Roger Wicker and Cindy Hyde-Smith, who are co-sponsoring Recovering America’s Wildlife Act,” Ellis-Smith said.
“Mississippi currently receives approximately $574 thousand in federal funding through state and tribal wildlife grants, which is inadequate to help the species at risk within the state. Species such as pollinators, frogs, turtles, songbirds and shorebirds, freshwater mussels and oysters often receive neither the attention nor funding to recover them. The alarm bell is sounding on America’s wildlife crisis, but the good news is Congress is on the brink this summer of pushing this historic legislation over the finish line.”
Mississippi’s marshes, woodlands, plains, prairies, and streams support an array of wildlife. Over half of Mississippi residents participate in outdoor recreation, which generates $2.8 billion in spending annually. However, threats such as habitat loss, pollution, and invasive species are affecting hundreds of wildlife species in Mississippi. The Recovering America’s Wildlife Act will dedicate funding to help at-risk wildlife before they become endangered – creating jobs and helping wildlife continue to thrive in a rapidly changing world.
“This is a historic game-changer for our wildlife, state wildlife agency and economy,” Ellis-Smith said. “The Recovering America’s Wildlife Act will allow Mississippi to protect at-risk species, conserve the full diversity of wildlife, and improve our state’s natural resources for generations.”
The nation’s 574 federally recognized tribes manage tens of millions of acres of land nationwide with limited federal funding for conservation efforts. The bill will also assist wildlife conservation efforts led by tribes, such as the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians, for wildlife conservation efforts on the 29,000 acres they own and manage within Mississippi.
In Mississippi, RAWA would help prevent the decline of at-risk fish and wildlife species through efforts to restore habitat, remove invasive species, address wildlife diseases, reduce water pollution and mitigate climate change.
“We want all Mississippians to be able to walk outside and see monarchs in their backyard, and how amazing would it be to visit your nearest Wildlife Management Refuge and stir up some wild coveys of quail?” Ellis-Smith said. “The Recovering America’s Wildlife Act will allow us to protect and recover at-risk species, conserve the full diversity of wildlife, and improve our state’s natural resources for generations to come.”