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Nation’s Leaders Take a Stand For Wildlife

Press release from Teaming With Wildlife | May 06, 2005

Washington, DC - In a strong, bipartisan show of support for America's wildlife, 128 members of the U.S. House of Representatives and 55 Senators (more than half) have signed letters urging a substantial increase in funding for wildlife conservation.

The letters, addressed to the Chairman and Ranking Member of the Interior Appropriations Committee in both the House and Senate, support a funding level of $85 million for the State Wildlife Grants Program in Fiscal Year 2006.

“The State Wildlife Grants program is the nation’s core program for preventing wildlife from becoming endangered in every state. I’m glad to see so many of my colleagues pull together to support a program that will enhance wildlife conservation,” says Sen. John Warner (R-VA). “It shows the growing priority our nation is placing conserving on wildlife for future generations to appreciate.”

Last year, the State Wildlife Grants Program secured just under $70 million in funding. The President’s Fiscal Year 2005 budget proposed increasing the program to $74 million. This letter by Members of Congress recognizes the need is even greater by requesting $85 million.

“This letter clearly shows that the fight for additional funding for State Wildlife Grants is a bipartisan issue,” says Rep. Mike Thompson (D-CA). “We should make every attempt to fully fund sound conservation efforts to prevent environmental problems and further loss of important fish and wildlife habitat.”

Created by Congress in 2001, the State Wildlife Grants Program serves to start early, strategic investments to conserve wildlife and habitat. The program helps states recover declining wildlife, saving both wildlife and taxpayer dollars and reducing costs and conflicts over endangered species listings. A matching requirement leverages federal funding from state and private sources, often doubling the impact of every dollar of federal funding.

“In a tight budget year, this bipartisan group of leaders is standing up for a program that really works.” stated John Baughman, Executive Vice President of the International Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies. “These legislative leaders have demonstrated that they are true champions for America’s fish and wildlife.”

The campaign for the letters was led by a bipartisan group of congressional leaders from across the nation. In the House of Representatives, the letter was led by Rep. Mike Thompson (D-CA), Rep. Jim Saxton (R-NJ), Rep. Ron Kind (D-WI) and Rep. Robin Hayes (R-NC). Senator Blanche Lincoln (D-AR) and Senator John Warner (R-VA) led the Senate letter. The letter is also strongly supported by the Congressional Sportsmen's Caucus, a bipartisan group of Members of Congress who support hunting, fishing and conservation. This caucus, the largest in Congress, includes Representatives Thompson, Hayes, Kind and Saxton, and Senators Warner and Lincoln, along with many of the other supporters of the State Wildlife Grants letter.

“In its first few years, the State Wildlife Grants Program has already helped restore degraded habitat, reintroduce native fish and wildlife, and encourage the effective stewardship of private lands,” says Martin McHugh, Director of New Jersey Division of Fish and Wildlife, and Teaming with Wildlife Chair. “We are extremely grateful to our Representatives and Senators who have joined together in this strong show of support for wildlife conservation.”

The State Wildlife Grants program is supported by Teaming with Wildlife, a national coalition of more than 3000 groups representing sportsmen, environmentalists, wildlife management professionals, and outdoor-related businesses. Teaming with Wildlife is spearheaded by the International Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies (IAFWA), the association representing North America’s fish and wildlife agencies. Teaming with Wildlife is driven by a steering committee of 13 organizations. In addition to IAFWA, they are: The Nature Conservancy; American Fisheries Society; American Zoo and Aquarium Association; Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation; Izaak Walton League of America; National Audubon Society; National Wild Turkey Federation; National Wildlife Federation; Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership; Wildlife Conservation Society; The Wildlife Society, and; the Wildlife Management Institute.

Article has been adapted from a news release issued by Teaming With Wildlife. Click here for the original news release.

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