January 30, 2020
WASHINGTON– Today, U.S. Senator Tom Udall (D-N.M.), vice chairman of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, applauded the House Natural Resources Committee for approving the Tribal Wildlife Corridors Act of 2019 to support the use of wildlife corridors on Tribal lands. The bill, introduced by Udall and U.S. Representative Ruben Gallego (D-Ariz.), chairman of the House Subcommittee for Indigenous Peoples, empowers Tribes to identify and support Tribal wildlife corridors that restore connectivity facilitating native species migration and safeguard species from the devastating impacts of climate change and habitat loss due to human development. The bill now moves to the House calendar for consideration for floor action. Udall’s companion measure, (S. 2891) has been referred to the Committee on Indian Affairs, where it awaits a legislative hearing.
“Right now, we are losing a football field worth of natural land every 30 seconds. This widespread habitat destruction is leaving scores of animal and plant species both homeless and helpless. The House committee passage of the Wildlife Corridors Act of 2019 brings us one step closer to restoring native species populations by preventing further habitat loss and fragmentation,” Udall said. “This legislation, developed in consultation with Tribes, is designed to honor the federal trust responsibility to Indian Tribes by supporting Tribes’ work to coordinate wildlife management strategies with their federal partnersacross jurisdictional boundaries.”
A United Nations report released in 2019 found that one million plant and animal species are facing extinction – and that habitat destruction caused by human activity is a key contributor to the threat. By connecting similar pieces of land into stretches of habitat to allow migration, wildlife corridors can reverse the process of habitat loss and fragmentation, protecting migration routes and safeguarding species from the devastating impacts of a changing climate and habitat loss due to human development.
The Tribal Wildlife Corridors Act of 2019 empowers Tribes to enhance native habitat connectivity on Tribal lands by:
– Requiring the U.S. Forest Service to consider opportunities to link Tribal Wildlife Corridors to U.S. Forest Service-managed lands;
– Requiring the U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI) to conduct meaningful consultation with Tribes administering a recognized Tribal Wildlife Corridor;
– Requiring DOI to provide technical assistance to Tribes to establish, manage, or expand a Tribal Wildlife Corridor;
– Prioritizing U.S. Department of Agriculture conservation projects that would enhance native species movement through the expansion of a Tribal Wildlife Corridor;
– Establishing a grant program to encourage native species movement; and
– Ensuring the authorized activities in the bill do not impact the use of private property or Tribal lands.
The legislation is also supported by U.S. Representatives Ben Ray Luján (D-N.M.) and Deb Haaland (D-N.M.) and implements recommendations from resolutions passed by the Native American Fish & Wildlife Society and the Western Governors’ Association, which call for increased support of Tribal efforts to identify and protect key wildlife migration corridors.
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