Kilmer Votes to Protect Wildlife, Provide Resources to Fight Invasive European Green Crab

Washington, DC – Today, U.S. Representative Derek Kilmer (WA-06) voted to support the Recovering America’s Wildlife Act (RAWA) – bipartisan legislation to provide new funding to assist in restoring and protecting wildlife and wildlife habitat in Washington state and across the nation. In passing RAWA, Rep. Kilmer voted to secure over $21 million for Washington to help manage fish and wildlife species of greatest conservation need.

In addition, RAWA will help Washington Tribes, along with state and local partners, combat threats to local ecosystems.  That includes the threat of the European Green Crab, an invasive species that is destroying essential marine habitat for Dungeness crab and Pacific salmon, and threatening Washington’s shellfish industry.  Last year, more than 102,000 European Green Crabs were caught in Puget Sound and along Washington’s coast - a 5,500% increase from 2019. In response to the explosion in the green crab population, a series of disaster declarations were made by the Lummi Nation and the Makah Tribe concerning the green crabs’ impact on Tribal culture and economy – and another disaster was declared by the State of Washington to mobilize more resources. RAWA would provide resources to improve detection, increase control efforts, and a pursue eradication of the invasive crabs. Rep. Kilmer spoke on the House floor in favor of the legislation.

“Across Washington state and our country, we’re facing widespread species decline that not only threatens the health of our ecosystems but also threatens the recreation, tourism, and fishing industries our communities rely on. That’s why we need to take action to implement bold conservation efforts to protect and restore habitat, reintroduce native species, and mitigate wildlife risk,” said Rep. Kilmer. “In addition, we’ve got to help our region combat the invasive European Green Crab – which is destroying essential marine habitat for Dungeness crab and Pacific salmon and threatening our shellfish industry. That’s why today I voted to give our region more resources to protect wildlife and combat invasive species – while ensuring that the costs don’t fall on local taxpayers alone.” 

State, territory, and Tribal governments carry out most wildlife management and conservation through their State Wildlife Action Plans, but these plans depend on consistent, reliable federal funding. Currently, federal funding sources, like the Pittman-Robertson Wildlife Act, are widely considered by fish and wildlife professionals to be inadequate.

The Recovering America’s Wildlife Act will:

  • Provide Tribes critical funding for wildlife conservation. RAWA provides a $97.5 million annual non-competitive Tribal Wildlife Conservation and Restoration grant program to assist Tribes in carrying out wildlife conservation and habitat restoration efforts.
  • Protect threatened and endangered species. At least 15% of RAWA funding must be spent on species that are listed under the Endangered Species Act or are considered threatened or endangered under Tribal law.
  • Make wildlife conservation more effective and cost-efficient. RAWA funding will help states, territories, and Tribes put conservation measures in place for species before they become threatened or endangered, making species protection less difficult and less costly. RAWA will also provide much-needed funding for non-hunted species. 
  • Address climate change by building more resilient ecosystems. State Wildlife Action Plans often include habitat restoration projects (e.g., removing invasive species, fighting wildlife disease) that simultaneously benefit forest, watershed, and coastal health. These improvements help make ecosystems more resilient to severe weather events caused by climate change, including wildfires, hurricanes, and drought. 
  • Boost the outdoor economy. By supporting wildlife conservation, RAWA funds will boost our $887 billion outdoor economy, which already supports over 7.6 million jobs and is fueled by more than 100 million American wildlife enthusiasts, hunters, anglers, birders, and hikers. A portion of the funds will also support wildlife education.

The legislation passed the House 231-190.