March 28, 2024

Interpretive Summary: Animal ag industry supports the America’s Wildlife Habitat Conservation Act

Animal ag industry supports the America’s Wildlife Habitat Conservation Act

By: Sydney Sheffield 

Representative Bruce Westerman introduced America’s Wildlife Habitat Conservation Act (AWHCA) into the House of Representatives to fund habitat restoration and forest management projects and promote collaboration with private partners to conserve habitat for at-risk and listed species. The AWHCA will also provide $20 million to fund habitat restoration projects and forest management on tribal lands. All spending in the bill is offset and will sunset after five fiscal years.

“The America's Wildlife Habitat Conservation Act will empower states and local communities to use proven practices to restore and maintain habitat, which will benefit species in their state’s wildlife action plans. Good habitat management is integral to wildlife management and without it, species have little chance of maintaining sustainable populations and surviving. By strengthening relationships between states, tribes, private landowners, and the federal government, we can empower them to implement proactive habitat conservation that will make a difference where it counts: on the ground across our abundant outdoors," said Westerman. 

The AWHCA would also empower states by allowing them to develop recovery strategies for species that are listed as threatened or are candidates to be listed. These recovery strategies give states an active role in developing regulations for threatened and candidate species and could become the regulation that governs the management of these species. Other provisions will give congressional backing to private, voluntary conservation efforts and provide a solution to the detrimental Cottonwood vs. U.S. Forest Service 9th Circuit Court decision. The bill authorizes Good Neighbor Authority for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, allowing the agency to partner with states, tribes, and counties to better manage their lands, placing it on par with other federal land management agencies.

The bill is supported by those in the animal agriculture industry. National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) President and Wyoming rancher Mark Eisele said “This bill puts the people who are closest to the land and closest to the issues in the driver’s seat, by prioritizing state and tribal leadership. We appreciate Chairman Westerman’s support for conservation on working lands, and his effort in this bill to protect the voluntary investments that farmers and ranchers make in wildlife conservation.”

Read the bill here