For Immediate Release, May 22, 2019

Contact:

Noah Greenwald, (503) 484-7495, ngreenwald@biologicaldiversity.org

Amid Extinction Crisis, Rep. Grijalva Introduces Bill to Save Critically Endangered Species

WASHINGTON— As scientists warn of a global extinction crisis, Rep. Raúl Grijalva (D-Ariz.) introduced legislation today that would provide funding for some of the most critically imperiled species in the United States — butterflies, Hawaiian plants, eastern freshwater mussels and southwest desert fish.

The legislation comes during a congressional hearing on a landmark scientific report by the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services, which warned that one million species are being pushed to extinction by human activities.

Rep. Grijalva’s bill would create four separate conservation funds that each provide $5 million per year. These targeted funds would support on-the-ground conservation projects to stabilize and save from extinction the most critically endangered species from each of the four groups of species. Similar language was included in Tuesday’s House Appropriations Committee report for the U.S. Department of the Interior.

“This legislation offers real hope to amazing animals and plants that are fighting for their very existence,” said Noah Greenwald, endangered species program director at the Center for Biological Diversity. “They need all the help they can get, especially when the Trump administration is hell-bent on shoving more and more wildlife toward extinction.”

A recent study in the journal PeerJ found the Endangered Species Act has saved roughly 99 percent of protected wildlife since its creation in 1973, demonstrating that the law has been overwhelmingly successful.

While most animals and plants protected by the Endangered Species Act are improving, some species continue to decline. The primary reason for the continued decline of some plants and animals is a lack of funding for conservation and recovery efforts.

A 2016 study found that Congress only provides approximately 3.5 percent of the funding that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s own scientists estimate is needed to recover species. Roughly 1 in 4 species receives less than $10,000 a year toward recovery.

The legislation would support programs like the Hawaiian Plant Extinction Prevention Program, which works to save more than 237 endangered plant species, each of which has fewer than 50 plants remaining in the wild. Since the program’s inception in 2003, no Hawaiian plants have gone extinct. But the Trump administration gutted nearly all funding for this program.

“We applaud Rep. Grijalva for taking leadership to protect our most vulnerable wildlife and plants,” said Greenwald. “We’re hopeful this legislation will be the spark needed to finally get Congress to seriously address the dire funding shortfalls that threaten America’s natural heritage.”

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 1.4 million members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.