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Congress fails to approve wildlife protection law

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
If it had passed, the Recovering America's Wildlife Act would have provided money to protect species of greatest conservation need.

What was billed as the greatest wildlife protection plan in 50 years was not included in the Congressional $1.7 trillion spending plan this week.

The Recovering America’s Wildlife Act would have meant nearly $1.5 billion a year for state and tribal wildlife agencies. About $26 million a year would have gone to Michigan to protect wildlife that could go extinct and are listed as threatened or endangered.

“But it also means some more common species that are kind of on the verge of that, where proactive recovery efforts that the state agencies already have plans for could help make sure they never get to the point of being endangered,” said Drew YoungeDyke, Director of Conservation Partnerships for the National Wildlife Federation's Great Lakes Regional Center.

Courtesy Drew YoungeDyke
Drew YoungeDyke , Director of Conservation Partnerships, NWF, Great Lakes Regional Center.

Some examples are wildlife such as common loons, monarch butterflies, and foxes. They are among 160 species in Michigan considered of greatest conservation need.

YoungeDyke likened the proposal to treating an injury now instead of waiting until it’s an emergency before doing anything.

He said his group is not giving up.

“We’re going to do what was done the last couple Congressional terms: we’re going to start recruiting co-sponsors. We’re going to keep pushing for this. This is something that wildlife need and we’re not going to give up on it.”

The bill’s chief sponsor, U.S. Representative Debbie Dingell (D-MI-12), had more than 240 co-sponsors in the House and Senate from both parties, including both of Michigan’s senators. But Congress could not agree on how to pay for the plan.

Correction: This story has been updated to reflect Drew YoungeDyke's title as Director of Conservation Partnerships instead of his previous title of Communications Coordinator.

Lester Graham reports for The Environment Report. He has reported on public policy, politics, and issues regarding race and gender inequity. He was previously with The Environment Report at Michigan Radio from 1998-2010.
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