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May 1, 2006
Texas Groups Join Teaming With Wildlife Coalition
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Texas groups recently met with congressional and conservation leaders here as part of a coalition of 3,000 organizations that make up Teaming with Wildlife, an effort to boost state and federal funding for wildlife conservation, outdoor recreation and conservation education and prevent wildlife from becoming endangered.
Teaming with Wildlife is a national grass roots organization that includes wildlife managers, conservationists, hunters and anglers, and businesses.
The national steering committee includes the American Fisheries Society, American Zoo and Aquarium Association, Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation, Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies, Izaak Walton League of America, National Audubon Society, National Wild Turkey Federation, National Wildlife Federation, Nature Conservancy, Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership, Wildlife Society, Wildlife Conservation Society, and Wildlife Management Institute.
The group is calling for new and greater funding to support full implementation of recently completed State Wildlife Action Plans, which lay out clear needs and actions for wildlife conservation in every state. To help launch the campaign, more than 150 people from 43 states flew to D.C. to speak with their elected representatives.
Plateau Land & Wildlife Management* CEO and former Nature Conservancy of Texas leader David Braun led the Texas mission to Congress, representing the recently reorganized Texas coalition for Teaming with Wildlife.
Accompanying Braun were representatives from the Nature Conservancy and National Wildlife Federation Texas chapters and the Texas Committee on Natural Resources. The group met with Texas congressional delegation offices, including members of the Congressional Sportsman’s Caucus. A letter supporting the effort was signed by Texas Representatives Lloyd Doggett, Solomon Ortiz and Gene Green.
Texas Parks and Wildlife Department Biologist Steve Bender was also there to provide information and answer questions about how TPWD has spent State Wildlife Grants funds. Bender recently led development of the Texas Wildlife Action Plan. Such plans are required of all states to continue to receive SWG federal funding.
“In the same way that treating a cold before it becomes pneumonia prevents a costly trip to the emergency room, taking proactive measures to conserve wildlife before they become endangered is cost-effective and smart,” said John Cooper, president of the International Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies. “The states need money to implement their new wildlife action plans, which will help avoid costly future problems and conserve wildlife and natural areas for our children and grandchildren.”
Since 2001, State Wildlife Grants have provided more than $366 million to states across the nation, including $18.3 million for Texas. For many decades, U.S. game and fish conservation has been funded partly through federal excise taxes on hunting and fishing equipment.
In 1938, Congress created the Pittman-Robertson/Wildlife Restoration federal aid program. In 1950, federal lawmakers followed up with the similar Dingell-Johnson/Sport Fish Restoration program.
Congress more recently created SWG, earmarking funds to conserve non-game animals. The idea is to “keep common species common” by proactively identifying problems and solutions before species become rare.
The State Wildlife Action Plans are the result of a collaborative effort by scientists, sportsmen and conservationists. Every state and territory submitted a plan to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service by the Oct. 1, 2005 deadline for review and approval.
These plans will guide wildlife conservation projects funded through State Wildlife Grants program. President Bush’s fiscal year 2007 budget includes $74.7 million for the State Wildlife Grants Program, a $6.5 million increase over last year’s enacted appropriation.
Senator Blanche Lincoln (D-AR) and Senator John Warner (R-VA) are leading a ‘Dear Colleague’ letter in the Senate supporting $85 million for State Wildlife Grants in FY ’07, as are Congressmen Ron Kind (D-WI), Saxton (R-NJ), Mike Thompson (D-CA), and Robin Hayes (R-NC) in the House.
To see the Texas Wildlife Action Plan, visit the TPWD Web site. For more about Teaming With Wildlife, including a list of Texas supporters, see the group’s Web site.
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