Nevada Senator Catherine Cortez Masto Cosponsors Bipartisan Bill to Galvanize Wildlife Conservation

Nevada: Nevada Senator Catherine Cortez Masto recently signed on as a cosponsor to the Recovering America’s Wildlife Act (RAWA). The bill is considered the most significant wildlife conservation bill in nearly half a century, devoting $1.4 billion annually to locally-led efforts—including $24.8 million to Nevada—to help at-risk wildlife species. These recent co-sponsors join a long list of congressional representatives across the aisle, and all over the country.

“Nevada is home to incredible wildlife, and protecting their natural habitat will ensure that Nevada’s biodiversity thrives,” said Nevada Senator Catherine Cortez Masto. “I was proud to cosponsor this bipartisan bill to invest in local conservation efforts and help ensure that fish and wildlife—like the Lahontan cutthroat trout, the desert bighorn sheep, and many more—continue to have a home in Nevada. I’ll continue working with the Nevada Department of Wildlife and local leaders to protect wildlife habitats for the benefit of the people and creatures that depend on them.”

At least 15 percent of the funds will be used to help species already designated as endangered or threatened. This bill could provide a wide range of benefits from using the funds to protect our wild places and species to promoting the nexus that wildlife and ecosystem health have on human mental and physical health. While many representatives see these possibilities, the Department of Wildlife wants to urge the public to reach out to delegates to share support for this legislation.

“We are truly appreciative of Senator Cortez Masto’s support for this historic legislation as well as all of her efforts to enhance conservation,” said Tony Wasley, Director of the Nevada Department of Wildlife. “Her support further demonstrates that wildlife conservation is a bipartisan issue.”

The legislation comes at a critical time when wildlife in Nevada—and the entire country—needs urgent help and support. Since 1970, nearly 2.9 billion birds (30 percent of the total population) in the U.S. have disappeared, according to research published in the journal “Science.” However, through the implementation of state wildlife actions plans and aggressive wildlife conservation policy, these numbers are trending in a positive direction when we invest in wildlife and habitat. These state actions alone aren’t enough though – durable conservation relies on consistent and sustained funding to turn the tide. RAWA funding also will grow local economies by billions of dollars and create thousands of jobs, while also reversing the alarming trend in the country’s bird populations.

Senator Cortez Masto’s endorsement also comes at a critical time when the great outdoors is proving to be so vital to the physical and mental health of Nevadans. The COVID-19 pandemic has caused isolation for so many people, and social distancing necessitated an immersion in nature to keep a happy and healthy way of living. RAWA funds ensure that these wild places and spaces will stay wild, providing as much for ourselves as our wildlife.

The Nevada Department of Wildlife has identified a list of priority projects that we would implement should this bill become law. The following list represents just a few of the projects the Department is ready to implement or enhance using RAWA funding:
• Fully implement the Nevada Wildlife Action Plan and protect the 256 species and 22 key habitats it identifies.
• Conserve Nevada’s sensitive species such as the pale kangaroo mouse, fringe-toed lizard, and ferruginous hawk.
• Restore and rehabilitate wetland, springs, and riparian habitats, especially with consideration to changing climates and drought.
• Continue building a vibrant volunteer citizen science program.
• Expansion of wildfire restoration and rehabilitation throughout the Great Basin and the Mojave Desert.
• Expansion of intentional outreach programs to connect Nevadans with their wildlife and wild places.
• Upgrade and modernize existing wildlife-education centers to provide expanded exhibits and conservation education opportunities. Improve and develop existing trails and wildlife-viewing opportunities at these areas.

This historic legislation provides myriad benefits for wildlife and wild spaces in Nevada and the U.S., while enhancing the public’s ability to enjoy the outdoors. The Department applauds Senator Cortez Masto’s support by co-sponsoring Recovering America’s Wildlife Act. This package will provide critical resources to the Department to conserve and protect all of Nevada’s wildlife and habitats.

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