Click here to watch Chairman Barrasso’s remarks.  

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today, U.S. Senator John Barrasso (R-WY), chairman of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works (EPW), delivered the following remarks at a hearing titled, “Examining Funding Needs for Wildlife Conservation, Recovery, and Management.”

The hearing featured testimony from John Kennedy, deputy director of Wyoming Game & Fish Department; Michael McShane, at-large board member for Ducks Unlimited; and Eric Schwaab, former deputy secretary for Maryland Department of Natural Resources and former assistant administrator for National Oceanic and Atmospheric Agency.

For more information on witness testimony click here.

Senator Barrasso’s remarks:

“Today we are having a hearing to examine funding needs for wildlife for conservation, for recovery, and for management.

“During the 115th Congress, this committee has focused on the important tools that wildlife experts use to conserve, and to recover, and to manage wildlife populations.

“The committee has held hearings, debated proposals, and introduced legislation to improve statutes, regulations, and programs that support wildlife conservation.

“Throughout these hearings, we have heard a common refrain that adequate funding for wildlife conservation tools deserves further attention.

“In Wyoming, we understand that the various wildlife conservation tools, including funding, often work in tandem to create success stories on our public and our private lands.

“Wyoming is blessed with some of the most iconic wildlife in the world.

“We also have some of the most beautiful vistas, where elk, deer, moose, bears, sage grouse, and antelope live alongside livestock and people.

“Wyoming’s state wildlife managers are second to none, and work closely with local, with tribal, and with federal managers across varied land management jurisdictions.

“For Wyoming and other states, it is important to make sure that both federal and state wildlife agencies have adequate resources, including funding, to perform their duties.

“A number of proposals in this committee’s jurisdiction address funding for state and federal wildlife conservation.

“The Recovering America’s Wildlife Act is state wildlife funding legislation that provides assistance to state wildlife agencies.

“States – not federal agencies – have primacy over wildlife management.

“States take this responsibility very seriously and already contribute and carry out more than $5.6 billion in conservation efforts annually.

“The Senate version of the Recovering America’s Wildlife Act authorizes $1.3 billion to be appropriated annually for state wildlife agencies to conduct fish and wildlife conservation activities.

“That’s a lot of money.

“I support robust funding for wildlife conservation at the state and federal levels but I believe we must be mindful of where the money is coming from and what other priorities exist for those same resources.

“I would also like to highlight that this committee and the full Senate have already passed a reauthorization of the Partners for Fish and Wildlife Program as part of the Wildlife Innovation and Longevity Driver Act, or WILD Act.

“Private landowners have as much, if not more, of a stake in effective conservation on their lands as anyone else.

“This legislation would reauthorize funding for the program for the first time since 2011 at $100 million per year.

“It would allow the Secretary of Interior to continue to provide technical and financial assistance directly to landowners to restore, to enhance, and to manage private land to improve fish and wildlife habitats.

“This program should be embraced as a critical tool for the future of conservation efforts.

“The Hunting Heritage and Environmental Legacy Preservation for Wildlife Act, or the HELP for Wildlife Act, which passed this committee with bipartisan support, also contains the North American Wetlands Conservation Act, which would reauthorize $50 million for five years to fund grants for waterfowl and migratory bird conservation.

“I have also placed a priority on reauthorizing the Endangered Species Act, which has not been significantly updated since 1988 – 30 years ago.

“My discussion draft bill modernizes the ESA to better prioritize resources and ensure that funds flow more efficiently and more effectively to species most in need.

“During this hearing, we have an opportunity to examine these and other innovative approaches to funding wildlife conservation, recovery, and management.

“It is my hope that we can come together in a bipartisan fashion to ensure that those tasked with wildlife conservation, recovery, and management have the necessary tools to preserve our country’s wildlife heritage.”