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Wildlife In Missouri And Around The Country Could Benefit From Proposed Federal Law

Henslow's Sparrow is one species of grassland birds in Missouri that could benefit from a proposed federal legislation to improve habitats.
Andy Reago & Chrissy McClarren
Henslow's Sparrow is one species of grassland birds in Missouri that could be helped from a proposed federal legislation to improve habitats.

Birds and other wildlife in Missouri and Illinois could get some help from the federal government. Under a bill cosponsored by U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt, state departments of conservation would be in line for a new funding source to protect land where plants and animals could prosper.

The Recovering America's Wildlife Act would provide $1.3 billion that would be sent to states to assist them in rehabilitating and protecting natural habitats.

“In Missouri, funding will be used to restore native prairie that will benefit grassland birds such as the eastern meadowlark and Henslow’s sparrow,” said Sara Parker Pauley, director of the Missouri Department of Conservation.

The grants would be distributed nationally and will be dictated by each state’s individual management plans. In Missouri, state officials still believe there will be benefits that cross state lines.

“We have regional, collaborative efforts in the Midwest where we are identifying habitat-based, species-based shared priorities to make sure we are working in lockstep to achieve the highest ends,” Pauley said.

The likelihood of the bill passing is aided by an increased interest in the outdoors, said Blunt, R-Missouri.

“The pandemic really encouraged a return to nature,” Blunt said. “But when they got there, they found out wildlife and wildlife habitat needed more attention than they might have thought, and needed it right now.”

In addition to each state using the money to improve land it owns, the bill also allows for partnerships with private landowners who can prove they are meeting habitat standards.

The bill has a Democratic co-sponsor, Sen. Martin Heinrich of New Mexico. Representatives of both parties have co-sponsored companion legislation in the House.

Blunt said that bipartisan support, the backing of state conservation agencies and tying the bill to a specific funding source makes him optimistic about the measure's chances of passing.

Follow Jonathan on Twitter: @JonathanAhl

Jonathan Ahl is the Newscast Editor and Rolla correspondent at St. Louis Public Radio.