Center for Biological Diversity

For Immediate Release, May 18, 2023

Contact:

Stephanie Kurose, (202) 849-8395, skurose@biologicaldiversity.org

Blumenthal, Grijalva Introduce Bill to Save Endangered Butterflies, Fish, Plants, Mollusks

WASHINGTON— Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) and Rep. Raúl Grijalva (D-Ariz.) have introduced the Extinction Prevention Act of 2023, which would provide $20 million per year to fund crucial conservation work to recover the most endangered groups of species in the United States.

The legislation, introduced on Thursday, would establish four grant programs that each provide $5 million per year. These targeted funds would be used for emergency on-the-ground conservation actions to stabilize and save four groups of endangered species at greatest risk of extinction: North American butterflies, freshwater mussels, desert fish and Hawaiian plants.

“For 50 years, the Endangered Species Act has saved hundreds of animals and plants from extinction, despite being severely underfunded by Congress,” said Stephanie Kurose, a senior policy specialist at the Center for Biological Diversity. “Thanks to Sen. Blumenthal and Rep. Grijalva, this legislation provides a much-needed lifeline to those species that have slipped through the cracks.”

A 2016 study found that Congress only provides approximately 3.5% 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, with many receiving no funding at all.

The Extinction Prevention Act 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.

“There’s no way we can fight the extinction crisis without investing in the recovery of our most endangered animals and plants,” said Kurose. “The Extinction Prevention Act is a desperately needed first step towards saving our precious natural heritage.”

The bill’s introduction comes on the eve of Endangered Species Day, an occasion that brings thousands of people from around the world to celebrate, learn about and take action to protect threatened and endangered species.

To celebrate the Act’s 50th anniversary, the Center recently released “A Promise to the Wild,” a report that highlights five decades of successful species’ recovery thanks to the Endangered Species Act. The report found that more than 80 national wildlife refuges totaling more than 21 million acres have been established specifically to help save threatened and endangered species and have achieved remarkable success moving wildlife and plants closer to recovery.

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Miami blue butterfly. Credit: Bill Bouton Image is available for media use.

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 1.7 million members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

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