America’s wildlife enriches our country in many ways – from supporting diverse ecosystems to instilling a love of nature that encourages us to protect it for future generations. Unfortunately, as undeveloped areas of the country have rapidly urbanized in recent decades, too much farmland and associated habitat has been destroyed, leading to a decline in many species.
A March study conducted by the National Wildlife Federation (NWF) reveals some sobering statistics. Populations of once abundant species like the monarch butterfly and little brown bat have declined, and as many as one in five of all wildlife species in the U.S. are at high risk of extinction. Staggeringly, more than 1,600 species are currently protected under the Endangered Species Act and some 150 species have already gone extinct over the last century.
Development-related habitat destruction has contributed heavily to these alarming numbers. Fortunately, conservation can effectively reverse this worrisome trend. The NWF report highlights several examples of successful conservation efforts, including a joint partnership between state fishery agencies and the Eastern Brook Trout Joint Venture to bolster the brook trout population in 17 states.
While these government-led efforts play an important role in preserving wildlife habitats across the country, the government cannot do it alone. Dwindling federal conservation funding and the vast acreage owned by private entities necessitate that the private sector take on greater responsibility in maintaining a healthy balance between economic growth and the environment. Protecting our nation’s most important land resources is too important of a mission to rely on government-run conservation alone.
That is why Congress updated the tax code in 2015 to make permanent an incentive for more private land conservation. By encouraging individuals, families and partnerships to conserve land, millions of acres have been saved by landowners across the country. The tax incentive implemented by Congress and approved on a bipartisan basis is clearly working as intended. Without it, additional wildlife habitats and too many pristine lands would be transformed into strip malls and condos.
Though the current incentive is working as intended, improvements can and should be made without losing sight of our goals – increasing land conservation and protecting wildlife habitats. That is why P4C has developed legislative proposals that address rare instances of abuse but also ensure that the significant expansion of private conservation can continue to grow.
P4C’s legislative proposals include:
P4C’s common sense legislative proposals will ensure land conservation and the preservation of wildlife habitats continues to expand in a responsible way. The future of American wildlife is at stake.