Texas conservation leaders speak out for Recovering America’s Wildlife Act

Environment Texas joined with the San Antonio Zoo, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, and the Greater Edwards Aquifer Alliance at a press conference yesterday to speak out in support of the Recovering America’s Wildlife Act, which passed the U.S. House earlier this week. Here were my comments:

We share our planet with countless incredible creatures, from the whooping crane in the marsh to the bee in the meadow, from the buffalo on the plains to the butterfly in our backyard. Many are on the brink of extinction. It’s up to us to protect our wildlife and the habitats they call home.

Right now, over 1,300 species are listed under the Endangered Species Act as either endangered or threatened. Another 12,000 are considered vulnerable and in need of conservation, so it’s great news that
the U.S. House of Representatives voted for the bipartisan Recovering America’s Wildlife Act, the largest, most significant investment in wildlife and habitat conservation in a generation.

The bill creates an annual fund of more than $1.3 billion, given to states for wildlife conservation on the ground.

To put that number in context, the State Wildlife Grant Program, awarded states a total of $56 million this year. Without proper funding, Texas’ conservation action plan has largely been just a pdf on someone’s computer. Recovering America’s Wildlife Act means we can start implementing the plan in earnest.

Texas is one of the most biologically diverse states in the nation and is home to some species which occur nowhere else on earth.

But as our state grows, we’re taking up more land, using more water, introducing invasive species, and even changing the climate. This degrades and fragments habitat, disrupts ecosystems, reduces native biodiversity, and creates competition for scarce water resources

Several species of birds and mammals have already vanished from Texas and more than 1300 are imperiled.

But we’ve seen that, with hard work, we can help Texas’ critters. success stories such as the recovery of endangered brown pelicans, reintroduction of peregrine falcons, and restoration of Guadalupe Bass provide reason for hope. Polls consistently show that Texans strongly support land, water and wildlife conservation and outdoor recreation.

This bill would direct $50 million per year to TPWD, which in turn will grant millions to universities, landowners, local communities and others. The funding will help acquire land, purchase development and water rights from willing landowners, restore habitats, and support breeding programs.

By getting ahead of wildlife declines while there’s still time to act we can avoid the need for endangered species listings.

This bill will lead to transformative change for people and wildlife, the kind of breakthrough that comes once in a generation and we urge the Senate to act quickly to approve it and send it to the President’s desk for his signature.


Luke Metzger

Executive Director, Environment Texas

As the executive director of Environment Texas, Luke is a leading voice in the state for clean air, clean water, clean energy and open space. Luke has led successful campaigns to win permanent protection for the Christmas Mountains of Big Bend; to compel Exxon, Shell and Chevron Phillips to cut air pollution at three Texas refineries and chemical plants; and to boost funding for water conservation, renewable energy and state parks. The San Antonio Current has called Luke "long one of the most energetic and dedicated defenders of environmental issues in the state." He has been named one of the "Top Lobbyists for Causes" by Capitol Inside, received the President's Award from the Texas Recreation and Parks Society for his work to protect Texas parks, and was chosen for the inaugural class of "Next Generation Fellows" by the Robert S. Strauss Center for International Security and Law at UT Austin. Luke, his wife, son and daughters are working to visit every state park in Texas.

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