Recovering America’s Wildlife Act urged to conserve NJ species

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LONG BRANCH — The president of the National Wildlife Federation called on natural resource protection professionals gathered Monday in Long Branch to lend their support to what he called “the most important wildlife legislation in half a century.” “.

Experts gathered for a three-day Northeast Association of Fish & Wildlife Agencies conference at Ocean Place Resort, where National Wildlife Federation President Collin O’Mara urged them to support pending legislation review in Congress.

Washington lawmakers haven’t considered a bill this important to protecting US wildlife since the Endangered Species Act of 1973, O’Mara said.

The bill under consideration, the Recovering America’s Wildlife Act, would invest $1.4 billion a year — of which $15.5 million would be distributed in New Jersey — in programs that protect the nation’s endangered species. , according to the National Wildlife Federation.

Humpback whales could be considered for specific protection programs in New Jersey under a federal bill currently before Congress.

In New Jersey, the money would be distributed to programs that protect 657 species considered “the species most needed for conservation.” Programs aimed at helping animals such as the bald eagle, red knot, barn owl, piping plover, monarch butterfly, bog turtle, North Atlantic right whale and humpback whale would all be eligible for funding.

“The biggest threat to wildlife is still habitat loss and fragmentation,” O’Mara said in a phone interview with Asbury Park Press.

Other threats include climate change, pollution, invasive species and new diseases, he said.

Across the country, more than 12,000 species need help maintaining their numbers, but only those on the federal endangered species list receive significant funding or protection, it said. -he declares.

Red knots are endangered in New Jersey, and in 2007 their population was as low as 13,000, down from around 90,000 in the 1980s.

The Recovering America’s Wildlife Act, if approved, would extend federal funding to protect other species before they reach that critical “endangered” threshold, O’Mara said.

Most of the money would support habitat restoration, such as creating migration corridors or restoring wetlands in places where they have been destroyed by storms or rising sea levels, a he declared.

In New Jersey, the money would support projects included in the state’s wildlife action plan. The plan includes restoration projects for wetlands, grasslands, woodlands and tributaries; redo the outline of the banks; better manage stormwater runoff to reduce pollution; and supporting research to better understand the state’s diverse ecosystems.

A federal bill pending in Congress could fund restoration projects in New Jersey's grasslands and wetlands.

The Recovering America’s Wildlife Act “is built on the principle that an ounce of prevention is better than a cure,” O’Mara said.

Federal money would also help support New Jersey’s outdoor spaces and the tourism dollars and jobs that depend on them, said Eric Stiles, president and CEO of New Jersey Audubon, an advocacy organization. environment that focuses on birds.

“There are over 650 species in need right here in New Jersey,” he said in a statement. “This bill will allow the state to take swift and collaborative action to help these species now – before they hit the brink. Tackling the wildlife crisis in the United States with fast, local action is good for wildlife, good for taxpayers and good for business.”

The US Senate Environment and Public Works Committee is due to meet on Thursday to discuss the wildlife law.

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Amanda Oglesby is from Ocean County and covers the townships of Brick, Barnegat and Lacey as well as the environment. She has worked for the press for more than a decade. Reach her at @OglesbyAPP, [email protected] or 732-557-5701.

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