Friday, March 04, 2016
Blue Ribbon Panel Recommends $1.3 Billion Investment in Conservation
A task force including business and energy leaders along with conservation groups is pushing a strategy to combat wildlife habitat loss and species decline. The blue-ribbon panel's recommendations include tapping $1.3 billion in royalties from energy production on public lands to protect non-game species. Whit Fosburgh, president and chief executive of the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership, said the struggle to keep the greater sage-grouse off the endangered species list has shown it pays to be proactive. The panel warned that if action isn't taken, the list of federally threatened and endangered species could grow from nearly 1,600 today to thousands more in the future - which Fosburgh said would put up significant roadblocks to economic development. Fosburgh noted that hunters and anglers already help subsidize management of game species through licenses and other fees. Since state fish and wildlife agencies already are being asked to do more with less, he said another source of funding is needed to protect the wildlife that draws people to the outdoors. To implement the plan, Fosburgh said, it's going to take pressure from states, industry and everyone who supports wildlife to move Congress to release a portion of the $13 billion collected each year in oil and gas royalties. The recommendations are online at fishwildlife.org.