2020 U.S. Presidential Candidates Kamala Harris, Bernie Sanders & Cory Booker Among Co-Sponsors Of The Wildlife Corridors Conservation Act Of 2019

Marking the most significant step toward national wildlife conservation in decades, the Wildlife Corridors Conservation Act of 2019 was introduced yesterday in both houses of Congress.

Introduced by Senator Tom Udall (D-NM), the bill was co-sponsored in the Senate by Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Cory Booker (D- NJ), Kamala Harris (D-CA), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Bernie Sanders (D-VT), Jon Tester (D-MT), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), and Ron Wyden (D-OR). The bill was introduced in the House of Representatives by Congressmen Don Beyer (D-VA) and Vern Buchanan (R-FL).

This bi-partisan introduction comes just weeks after the United Nations released a harrowing report detailing the threats facing global biodiversity, including wildlife native to America.

“Widespread habitat destruction is leaving scores of animal and plant species both homeless and helpless. We must act now to conserve wildlife corridors that would save species and mitigate against the mass extinction crisis we are rapidly hurtling toward,” Udall said in a statement. “Globally, one million species are at risk of extinction, many within decades, as a result of factors like habitat destruction and climate change.”

The legislation would give authority to key federal agencies to designate National Wildlife Corridors on federal lands in order to create a comprehensive corridor network that would boost biodiversity, protect ecosystems, and help safeguard America’s most iconic species from a mass extinction crisis.

“With roughly one in five animal and plant species in the U.S. at risk of extinction due to habitat loss and fragmentation, one of the simplest yet most effective things we can do is to provide them ample opportunity to move across lands and waters,” stated Bayer. “The U.N. report on accelerating extinction makes it clear that the window for action to protect the planet’s biodiversity is closing. We badly need to pass the Wildlife Corridors Conservation Act.”

Wildlife corridors have been implemented in some U.S. states and throughout the world. Research shows that they ultimately reduce the risk of extinction for many species, but current law lacks requirements and incentives for federal land and water managers to address habitat connectivity needs.

This legislation offers funding and sets up a framework to manage a national system of corridors, improving interagency coordination, and enhancing data collection and information sharing across jurisdictions to improve land management decisions throughout the United States.

While the Trump administration’s Department of Interior (DOI) has awarded some recent funding to support wildlife corridors, many of its other policies are further jeopardizing them.

A recent Center for American Progress analysis found that nearly one-quarter of the more than 4,500 oil and gas leases offered by the Trump administration since January 2017 in the West are within a wildlife corridor or state wildlife priority area. The proportion of leases that conflict with known wildlife areas has been the highest in New Mexico, Colorado, Nevada, and Wyoming.

The legislation is supported by a broad coalition of conservation organizations, including the New Mexico Wildlife Federation, Defenders of Wildlife, and the Wildlands Network.

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