Nambé, N.M. – U.S. Senator Ben Ray Luján (D-N.M.), a member of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, announced the introduction of the Tribal Wildlife Corridors Act to fund wildlife migration corridors and provide Tribal Nations with resources to carry out on-the-ground work to develop and maintain wildlife corridors. Tribal lands and waters provide a vital habitat for hundreds of wildlife species, many of which need to travel considerable distances to meet their needs. U.S. Representative Ruben Gallego (D-Ariz.) introduced companion legislation.
The Tribal Wildlife Corridors Act would establish a process for identifying Tribal wildlife corridors and authorize $50 million per year for a Tribal Corridors Grant Program to ensure that Tribal Nations have the resources for implementation and maintenance of wildlife corridors. It would also increase coordination with federal agencies, states, Tribal governments, and private landowners and work to ensure the property rights of Tribal nations and private landowners.
“The challenges posed by the climate crisis threaten migrating wildlife species and crucial wildlife corridors,” said Senator Luján. “It’s crucial that Tribal Nations have the resources needed to develop and maintain migration corridors and effectively manage wildlife. I’m proud to introduce the Tribal Wildlife Corridors Act to support these efforts, address the climate crisis, and protect our wildlife.”
In addition to Luján, this legislation is co-sponsored by Senator Cory Booker (D-N.J.). More than 20 Tribal organizations and Tribal Nations have endorsed the legislation.
“Wildlife do not recognize the jurisdictional boundaries between tribal, federal, state and private lands,” said Elveda Martinez, president of the Native American Fish and Wildlife Society. “The Tribal Wildlife Corridors Act not only acknowledges tribal sovereignty and the wildlife conservation expertise of tribes, but will also encourage cross-jurisdictional collaboration to ensure the health and movement of wildlife populations.”
“There has been a historic lack of equity in natural resource conservation funding for tribes, even though tribes manage millions of acres of wildlife habitat,” said Garrit Voggesser, tribal partnerships director for the National Wildlife Federation. “Representative Gallego and Senator Luján’s leadership in introducing the Tribal Wildlife Corridors Act is an important step to recognizing the significant role tribes play in protecting wildlife and providing much needed resources to bolster their conservation efforts.”
“In providing essential resources to Native Tribes to enhance wildlife connectivity and support habitat restoration, this important legislation also benefits public land users by encouraging cross-jurisdictional collaboration between Tribes, states and federal agencies so as to ensure an ecosystem-wide approach to management of big-game and critical wildlife habitat,” said Andrew Black, public lands field director for the National Wildlife Federation.
The full text of the legislation is available HERE.