Tag Archives: land and water conservation fund

Huge Federal Public Lands Bill Signed, Applauded By Hunters, Anglers, Others

THE FOLLOWING ARE PRESS RELEASES FROM BACKCOUNTRY HUNTERS AND ANGLERS, U.S. SENATE ENERGY AND NATURAL RESOURCES RANKING MEMBER SEN. JOE MANCHIN, AND CASCADIA WILDLANDS

BHA

Public lands sportsmen and women are celebrating a significant victory following the president’s signing a massive package of conservation and access bills into the law of the land.

THE LANDS BILL WITHDRAWS FEDERAL NONWILDERNESS LAND IN THE UPPER METHOW VALLEY FROM POTENTIAL MINING. (ANDY WALGAMOTT)

Permanent reauthorization of the Land and Water Conservation Fund; conservation of valuable habitat in Montana, Oregon, Washington and California; and establishment of wilderness areas in New Mexico, along with reauthorization of key federal resources programs, are among the wins in S. 47, renamed the John D. Dingell Jr. Conservation, Management and Recreation Act in honor of the long-serving member of Congress who died last month.

Backcountry Hunters & Anglers members consistently and enthusiastically advocated for S. 47, particularly the permanent reauthorization of LWCF, and BHA President and CEO Land Tawney lauded the bill’s passage into law.

“Together, the public lands grassroots nation rose up to ensure the passage of this historic bill,” said Tawney. “We wrote letters, we made phone calls, we met with our elected officials and we traveled from across the country to Washington, D.C., and together we made our voices heard. Today we can celebrate a victory that has been years in the making.

“Every victory starts with a vision, and it is carried forward by champions whose resolve never wavers, even in the face of tremendous adversity,” Tawney continued. “Our allies in Congress helped assure that this important legislation advanced, and in doing so they heeded the will of a citizenry and a conservation legacy set in motion by our forefathers. President Trump, hopefully, woke up this morning and asked himself, ‘What would Theodore Roosevelt do?’ before signing this momentous package of bills into law. Our thanks go to the president, Congress and the countless individuals who stepped up to make this happen. We the people are just getting started and have the mandate to do more!”

Passage of S. 47 was made possible by a bipartisan group of congressional leaders, including Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee Chairman Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), former Ranking Member Maria Cantwell (D-WA), House Natural Resources Committee Chairman Raúl Grijalva (D-AZ) and Ranking Member Rob Bishop (R-UT). S. 47 passed the Senate on Feb. 12 in an overwhelming 92-8 vote and advanced through the House on Feb. 26 in a vote of 363-62.

BHA grassroots members from across the country spoke up in support of S. 47.

“This bill is an important final step in protecting key lands used by generations of hunters and anglers in both southern and northern New Mexico,” said Joel Gay, BHA New Mexico chapter policy coordinator, who lives in Albuquerque. “The John D. Dingell Jr. Conservation, Management and Recreation Act will provide permanent protection for critical habitat for mule deer, elk and bighorn sheep and for streams that harbor our state fish, the Rio Grande cutthroat trout. The New Mexico chapter of Backcountry Hunters & Anglers applauds Congress for its bipartisan effort on behalf of sportsmen and women.”

“Sportsmen and women from across the Northwest have long treasured the Methow Valley for its vast and wild public lands,” said Ryan Los, a Washington BHA chapter board member, who lives in Wenatchee. “I grew up driving over four hours between my dad’s and grandpa’s houses to the Methow and its tributaries every fall. I shot my first deer in one of those drainages. I applaud Senator Cantwell and others in our state for their bipartisan leadership work to permanently protect the headwaters of the Methow and permanently reauthorize the Land and Water Conservation Fund.”

“Montanans feed our families and our souls thanks to the public lands and waters within our state and therefore support robust conservation funding to bolster our fish and wildlife and outdoor traditions,” said Christian Appel, a member of BHA’s Montana chapter board who lives in Bozeman. “We’re proud that all of our congressional delegates voted the right way on S. 47. In particular, the Yellowstone Gateway Protection Act permanently removes more than 30,000 acres of public lands from mineral exploration and extraction. This land, situated just outside of Yellowstone National Park, provides some of the best hunting and fishing opportunities in the state. Montanans everywhere should feel relief that these acres – and the outdoor activities they provide – now are conserved for future generations.”

“We’re thrilled to see some of our most critical Southern California desert habitat gain designation as wilderness with the passage of S. 47,” said Justin Bubenik, co-chair of BHA’s California chapter, from Pasadena. “These newly minted wilderness areas will provide additional protections to critical habitat of our local wildlife – from our state bird, the California quail, to the desert bighorn sheep – and promises to benefit all recreational users. We thank our representatives in the Senate and House and our partner groups for their efforts in passing this critical legislation.”

“The Oregon chapter of BHA is committed to the conservation of North America’s native species,” said Ian Isaacson, co-chair of BHA’s Oregon chapter board and a resident of Bend. “This is why we are excited about the passage of the Frank and Jeanne Moore Wild Steelhead Sanctuary Act. The passage of this bill is a culmination of a multi-year collaborative effort, which will result in the conservation of 100,000 acres of the most critical and pristine wild steelhead habitat in the Pacific Northwest. While we all take this moment to celebrate, know that the Oregon chapter will not stand idle as we continue to identify other opportunities around this state to secure similar victories for fish and game species iconic to the American west.”

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SEN. MANCHIN’S OFFICE

Today, U.S. Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee Ranking Member Joe Manchin (D-WV) attended the White House’s Presidential bill-signing ceremony at which President Trump signed the John D. Dingell, Jr. Conservation, Management, and Recreation Act into law. The legislation, which permanently reauthorizes the Land and Water Conservation Fund, passed the U.S. Senate with a vote of 92-8 on February 12th and passed the U.S. House of Representatives with a vote of 363-62 on February 26th.

“I was proud to join Senator Murkowski and my colleagues at the White House today as President Trump signed the John D. Dingell, Jr. Conservation, Management, and Recreation Act into law. This legislation is an important reminder that when we work in a bipartisan way, the American people come out on top. This public lands bill permanently reauthorizes the Land and Water Conservation Fund, increases access to public lands for hunting, fishing and recreational shooting, and it significantly expands our recreation and conservation areas. West Virginians take great pride in our outdoor heritage and I’m especially proud we were able to finally designate the Appalachian Forest Heritage Area in 18 counties in West Virginia and Maryland as a National Heritage Area,” Senator Manchin said. “Roughly 47 million Americans hunt and fish every year which provides an economic benefit of more than of $201.4 billion per year and supports 1.5 million jobs. For West Virginians, our love of the great outdoors is a part of who we are and we take great pride in sharing that with our friends and neighbors. More than 350,000 hunters explore our woods every year. That sporting contributes almost $270 million to our economy and supports 5,000 jobs. This public lands bill expands our access to the lands we cherish and that is great news for West Virginia.”

LWCF is a conservation tool that ensures states and federal public land management agencies are able to protect and conserve our natural resources without relying on taxpayer dollars. The program puts royalties paid by energy companies drilling for oil and natural gas in the Outer Continental Shelf into a fund in the U.S. Treasury to be allocated to states and the Federal government for the purpose of protecting, conserving and improving our public spaces. Since 1965, about $19 billion of LWCF funds have been appropriated.  LWCF expired in September 2018 after a brief 3-year extension in 2015.

The John D. Dingell, Jr. Conservation, Management, and Recreation Act also includes significant wins for America’s sportsmen and sportswomen. The legislation will increase access to federal lands for hunting and fishing, and includes a clear Congressional declaration for all federal departments and agencies to facilitate the expansion and enhancement of hunting, fishing and recreational shooting opportunities on federal lands. The bill establishes a national “open unless closed” standard for hunting and fishing on Bureau of Land Management and U.S. Forest Service lands, and it requires land management agencies to listen to local, public input before they can close any lands to hunting or shooting. The legislation authorizes two additional days to the current duck hunting season, specifically for veterans and youth.

The John D. Dingell, Jr. Conservation, Management, and Recreation Act also:

  • Adds over 621 miles of rivers to the National Wild & Scenic Rivers System
  • Adds over 2,600 miles of new trails to the National Trails System
  • Designates 700,000 acres of new recreation and conservation areas
  • Increases the size of our National Parks by over 42,000 acres
  • Creates four new national monuments
  • Provides direction to all federal departments and agencies to facilitate the expansion and enhancement of hunting, fishing and recreational shooting opportunities on federal lands

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CASCADIA WILDLANDS

Today, President Donald Trump signed into law a sweeping public lands package that passed the US House and Senate in February. Included in the nation-wide legislation is the Oregon Wildlands Act, the Frank and Jeanne Moore Wild Steelhead Special Management Area Designation Act, the reauthorization of the Land and Water Conservation Fund, and many other public lands bills. The legislation was the first for Oregon to protect Wilderness and Wild and Scenic Rivers in nearly 10 years.

A FLY ANGLER WORKS THE NORTH UMPQUA (BLM, FLICKR, CC 2.0)

Representative Peter DeFazio and Senators Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley championed the conservation legislation for years. The passage was lauded by business owners, conservationists and public lands enthusiasts across the country.

“Protected wildlands and waterways in Oregon are good for business, critical for great craft beer, and are part of our identity as Oregonians,” says Jamie Floyd, co-founder of Ninkasi Brewing Company. “That’s why we are ecstatic about the passage of the Oregon Wildlands Act, which will forever safeguard special places like Devil’s Staircase, the Rogue, Elk, and Chetco Rivers and other Oregon treasures.”

Today’s authorization will designate the approximately 30,500-acre Devil’s Staircase Wilderness in the Oregon Coast Range northeast of Reedsport and safeguard 303 miles of rivers, including nearly 256 miles as Wild and Scenic Rivers, including the Molalla and Elk Rivers and tributaries to the lower Rogue River. The bill will also permanently withdraw portions of the salmon-rich Chetco River, the drinking water source for the City of Brookings, from mining claims. The legislation also creates the 100,000-acre Frank and Jeanne Moore Wild Steelhead Special Management Area on the North Umpqua River, named after two legendary fish and wildlands advocates of the area.

“Oregon’s inventory of protected wildlands and waterways just got a huge boost, and is a testament to the conservation passion of Oregonians,” says Josh Laughlin, Executive Director of Cascadia Wildlands. “These are storybook landscapes that will be forever safeguarded from industrialization and will continue to provide clean water, recreation, carbon storage, and critical salmon and wildlife habitat at a time it is so desperately needed.”

Left out of the legislation during earlier negotiations was the 56,000-acre addition to the Wild Rogue Wilderness in the Siskiyou Mountains of southern Oregon and the creation of the Rogue Canyon and Molalla Recreation Areas. Conservation organizations continue to work with elected officials, business owners and community members to ensure these permanent protections are included in future legislation.

BHA Blasts Proposed Federal Budget And Its Deep Cuts To LWCF, Natural Resource Agencies

THE FOLLOWING IS A PRESS RELEASE FROM BACKCOUNTRY HUNTERS AND ANGLERS

The release by the Trump administration of both its fiscal year 2019 budget request and a wide-ranging package of infrastructure programs drew criticism from Backcountry Hunters & Anglers, which zeroed in on deep cuts proposed for land management agencies and popular public access programs, including the federal Land and Water Conservation Fund.

The president submitted a $4.4 trillion budget to Congress on Monday, recommending cuts of 16 percent to the Department of the Interior and the Department of Agriculture and a steep 34 percent cut to the Environmental Protection Agency, all while adding $7 trillion to the federal deficit.

“By starving key resource management agencies of funds, the administration essentially deprives them of the tools to execute their jobs efficiently and effectively,” said BHA President and CEO Land Tawney. “Economically speaking, the value of investing in our resource agencies is undeniable and contributes significantly to the $887 billion generated every year by outdoor recreationists, including hunters and anglers. Congress owes it to the innumerable communities that rely on this economy – and the citizens who sustain it – to summarily reject this shortsighted proposal and instead ensure that our federal land managers are given the resources they need to do their jobs.”

The president’s budget likewise takes aim at federal monies earmarked for conservation and access, eviscerating the Land and Water Conservation Fund, a nationwide program that uses royalties paid by energy companies drilling for oil and gas on the outer continental shelf to conserve public lands and waters and expand public access opportunities. The budget proposes cutting the LWCF by 98 percent from previously enacted levels. State grant programs under the LWCF have been completely eliminated, zeroing out popular elements like the Forest Legacy Program, which supports working forests and unique public-private business partnerships.

A package of infrastructure programs also was unveiled by the administration on Monday. A closer look suggests a shell game will be played with revenue from mineral and energy development on public lands and waters to pay for deferred maintenance backlogs. BHA maintains that while these backlogs should remain a priority, Congress must ensure that they are not resolved at the expense of revenues currently allocated to the LWCF.

Trump’s infrastructure proposal also weakens standards for review and public input on public lands projects, and it sets a potentially dangerous course for the privatization of public works that could be precedent setting and threaten other federal property assets.

“The administration repeatedly affirms the importance of maintaining and expanding public access,” stated Tawney, “and Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke touts his department’s commitment to public access opportunities – such as his support of federal access programs like the Land and Water Conservation Fund, support that he cited repeatedly during his confirmation hearing.

“So why, now, is the administration throwing its support behind a measure that would eliminate funding for the LWCF and cripple the program’s ability to acquire new access, including access to currently inaccessible public lands and waters?” Tawney remarked. “You can’t claim that access is the name of the game then gut the most successful, established, bipartisan public access program in existence. Sportsmen are sorely disappointed by this abrupt about face.”