A bill introduced in Congress on Friday would dedicate $30 million to protecting wildlife in Georgia. The money would go to the state to protect rare plants and animals, from gopher tortoises, to monarch butterflies, to the shoals spiderlily.
States typically struggle to fund that kind of conservation work, according to Patricia Allen from the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies.
“Most Americans don’t realize that our funding dollars come mainly from the sale of fishing and hunting licenses,” she said. “That is what goes into most state fish and wildlife agencies, and there’s just not enough to do everything.”
The “Recovering America’s Wildlife Act” would address the funding gap with $1.4 billion from the U.S. Treasury going to states and tribes to protect species. It would especially help agencies work on species that aren’t listed as threatened or endangered, but still need attention, said Allen.
“This helps prevent them from getting to that crisis point,” she said. “What we need is proactive conservation.”
The funding would help Georgia protect more than 600 species, listed on the state’s wildlife action plan, said Mike Worley, president of the Georgia Wildlife Federation.
“Georgia is richly blessed with plants and animals,” he said.
But, Worley said, there is a wildlife crisis in the country, and while states have been able to do a good job protecting game species, funding conservation for others has been tougher. Globally, about a million species are at risk of extinction, according to a recent UN report.
“We think of the iconic species around the world that are in trouble, but gosh, we need to take care of our home, as well,” he said.
Congressman Austin Scott, a Republican from South Georgia, is a co-sponsor of the bipartisan bill, which was reintroduced last week after failing to move ahead in a previous session.