Recovering America's Wildlife Act

What is the Recovering America's Wildlife Act?

UPDATE: May 8, 2023 - Recovering America’s Wildlife Act (RAWA) is being considered once again in the 2023 Congressional session to help states and tribes fully implement our State Wildlife Action Plans. As of this week both NC Senators have signed on as co-sponsors. Currently on the Senate floor (S. 1149), the bill is pending an introduction in the US House.

UPDATE: Jan. 3, 2023 - Recovering America’s Wildlife Act (RAWA) was not included in the omnibus budget bill passed by Congress on Dec. 19, 2022. The National Wildlife Federation has pledged to keep working with its state and territorial affiliates, as well as allies in the nonprofit and private sectors, to pass RAWA into law. We’ll keep you updated.

The Recovering America’s Wildlife Act is a bipartisan bill that, if passed, would dedicate over $20 million annually to North Carolina to conserve and restore nearly 500 nongame fish and wildlife species of greatest conservation need (SGCN), as well as their habitats. Nationally, state wildlife action plans have identified over 12,000 SGCN. The Recovering America’s Wildlife Act, if passed, would allow us to protect those species, conserve the full diversity of wildlife, and improve our natural resources.

North Carolina is home to more than 1,500 nongame fish and wildlife species and over 6,000 plant species. RAWA would allow North Carolina to consistently review, assess and plan conservation and restoration of nearly 500 SGCN that have low and/or declining populations and need conservation action as described in the  N.C. Wildlife Action Plan

Tab/Accordion Items

Under the current proposal, North Carolina's estimated portion of the funding would be more than $20 million annually, with a required non-federal match of up to 25% ($9 million annually). These funds would be consistent and recurring for the implementation of the N.C. Wildlife Action Plan. Passage of the Recovering America's Wildlife Act is proposed to be funded through the general treasury fund and would not impact North Carolina's current allocation of Pittman-Robertson or Dingell-Johnson funds. To learn more about how these funds could be used to benefit NC SGCN species, including plants and animals, The the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission developed a document outlining a strategy: Recovering America's Wildlife Act: Sustaining North Carolina's Diverse Fish and Wildlife Resources. (~20 MBs PDF) 

With the annual allocation of funds from RAWA, the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission, along with partners, volunteers and others, could:

  • Keep common species common
  • Manage and restore North Carolina's Species of Greatest Conservation Need
  • Create, enhance and preserve North Carolina's priority habitats
  • Connect people with nature
  • Expand conservation education and stewardship
  • Consider North Carolina native plants in the SGCN list
  • Enhanced Focus on illegal collection and sale of listed wildlife and plant species

Every state in the nation, including North Carolina, has created a State Wildlife Action Plan to address management of Species of Greatest Conservation Need (SGCN) and to promote proactive conservation for at-risk species. The purpose of RAWA would be to secure annual funding with the intent to fully implement state wildlife action plans. Since 2005, states have been receiving State and Tribal Wildlife Grants that are approved by Congress each year and have varied funding around $1 million annually to fund projects and programs that benefit these SGCN. This level and method of funding tend to encourage only one-year projects and is not adequate to successfully restore, conserve, manage and enhance these species and their habitats.

Read more about the N.C. Wildlife Action Plan

  • Keep up-to-date on supporting Recovering America’s Wildlife Act by visiting the Alliance for America’s Fish and Wildlife website
  • Share how the Alliance for Fish and Wildlife has inspired you by visiting
  • Share wildlife stories and how you are enjoying North Carolina's wildlife on social media and add #RecoverWildlife to let others know you support secured funding for the state wildlife action plans.
  • Contact us to understand how your project is already part of the effort to keep common species common. Mentioning how your project implements the N.C. Wildlife Action Plan can help it qualify for funding and inspire the next project.
  • Seek out volunteer opportunities with the NCWRC or other organizations that are part of the conservation effort to implement the N.C. Wildlife Action Plan

Read more about the projects funded through the State and Tribal Wildlife Grant Programs in the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's "State and Tribal Wildlife Grants Program: 20 Years of Success" publication

The N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission and species experts have identified nearly 500 species of greatest conservation need in North Carolina. Without conservation and management now, many of these species will not get the conservation work needed to keep them common an off the federal list. Restoration and enhancement of species and their habitats are at the core of North Carolina’s Wildlife Action Plan. Check out a few success stories below. Download a 2-page overview.

Eastern Hellbenders

Eastern Hellbenders (Cryptobranchus alleganiensis alleganiensis) are large, aquatic salamanders found in North Carolina only in fast-moving, clean mountain streams in the Ohio and Tennessee drainages. Once common throughout the mid-eastern United States, these giant salamanders have disappeared from many streams due to declining water quality. Since 2007, the Commission has been working with the U.S. Forest Service, Clemson University, N.C. Zoological Park and other partners to monitor populations, conduct applied research, expand public outreach efforts, and address threats to the hellbender at each life stage.

Carolina Pygmy Sunfish

The Carolina Pygmy Sunfish (Elassoma boehlkei) is a small fish found only in streams, swamps and ditches in Columbus and Brunswick counties in North Carolina and counties in northeastern South Carolina. The Commission, along with the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, SC Department of Natural Resources, NOAA Fisheries and Three Oaks Engineering, has been working since 2016 to conserve this sunfish by conducting surveys, protecting much of the land within its range in the state and including the species in a state-wide Safe Harbor/Candidate Conservation Agreement with Assurance so the species can be stocked into unoccupied suitable habitat, if necessary, in the future.

Gopher Frogs

Gopher Frogs (Lithobates capito) are specialists of the Longleaf Pine ecosystem and their populations have declined for several decades primarily due to habitat loss. The N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission (Commission) partners with the NC Zoo, NC Aquariums, NCSU-Center for Marine Science and Technology, and Carteret Community College to captive-rear and release young frogs back to the wild. Since 2011, more than 3,000 frogs have been reared and released. Captive-rearing frogs, wetland restoration, land conservation, and research are some of the proactive approaches the Commission is taking to increase populations of this North Carolina native.

Spruce Fir Restoration

Habitat loss and fragmentation are two of the most pervasive threats to North Carolina’s wildlife. The WAP identifies the need to restore high-elevation forest habitat as one of the conservation priorities for species, such as the Carolina Northern Flying Squirrel (Glaucomys sabrinus coloratus), which is federally listed as endangered and is considered a species of greatest conservation need (SGCN) in North Carolina’s 2015 Wildlife Action Plan (WAP).  Habitat loss has resulted primarily from extensive logging of spruce-fir forests that occurred primarily between the 1880s and 1930s, followed by mortality of Fraser Fir due to Balsam Woolly Adelgid (Adelges piceae), an invasive non-native insect, and development for recreation and second homes. In one recovery area, the only extant conifer species, Eastern Hemlock, has been lost due to Hemlock Woolly Adelgid (Adelges tsugae), another invasive non-native insect. Habitat improvement measures involve enhancing the conifer component in appropriate areas by planting Red Spruce (Picea rubens) seedlings or managing the forest canopy around existing spruce trees through timber cuts that ‘release’ existing spruce trees so the canopy is more open and they get more sunlight. In 2012, the Southern Appalachian Spruce Restoration Initiative, a multi-state effort, was established with the goal of achieving landscape scale restoration to benefit Northern Flying Squirrel populations as well as other priority bird species (Red Crossbill and Saw-whet Owl).