Conservation viewed in its entirety, is the slow and laborious unfolding of a new relationship between people and land.
– Aldo Leopold
A vote by the U.S. Senate on Tuesday supported a massive package of conservation and public access bills that permanently reauthorizes the Land and Water Conservation Fund and advances other key measures, edging hunters, anglers and other outdoor enthusiasts closer to a hard-won and long-awaited victory.
This is the most sweeping conservation leglislation in over a decade, protecting millions of acres of land and hundreds of miles of wild rivers.
The Natural Resources Management Act (S. 47) encompasses the consensus priorities of sportsmen and women as well as a bipartisan cadre of senators who have worked to ensure the legislation’s survival. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s (R-KY), Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer’s (D-NY) and Sen. Lisa Murkowski’s (R-AK) ongoing efforts that began last Congress paid off with today’s overwhelming 92-8 vote in support of the measure.
to note: this is probably the only time I’ll ever quote Mitch McConnell
“It touches every state, features the input of a wide coalition of our colleagues, and has earned the support of a broad, diverse coalition of many advocates for public lands, economic development and conservation,” said Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.).
Key features of S. 47 include:
- Permanent reauthorization of the Land and Water Conservation Fund with 3 percent dedicated to securing hunting and fishing access opportunities on public lands and waters.
- Frank and Jeanne Moore Wild Steelhead Special Management Area.
- Methow Valley permanent mineral withdrawal.
- California Desert Protection and Recreation Act.
- Cerro del Yuta and Rio San Antonio wilderness areas.
- Reauthorization of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Partners for Fish and Wildlife program at current funding levels of $51.6 million until FY2022.
- Reauthorization of Neotropical Migratory Bird Conservation Act at $6.5 million until FY2022, a $2.6 million increase of funding from currently enacted levels.
- Authorization for hunters with archery equipment to cross National Park Service lands by foot or horseback.
As mentioned earlier the voting was 92-8 with the 8 NAYs coming from Republican Senators.
Left to Do
One thing to note is that this is only a partial win at the moment as there is still the need for the House of Representatives to quickly vote on S. 47 where it can the be passed on to the president’s desk for signature. At that point it will become law.
How to Act
If this is important to you here’s how to act.
1) Locate your Representative
Many people don’t know who their senators and representatives are. And that’s okay! You can go here and input your zip code or state; it will tell you who your elected officials are. Once you have the names, you can find their contact information here.
2) Once you’ve located your Representative you can either email or call them asking for them to support the bill. A sample email is listed below.
Subject: Please Support S. 47
Dear [[Recipient’s Title and Name]]:
I strongly urge you to consider Sens. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) and Maria Cantwell’s (D-WA) public lands package (S. 47) on the House floor.
The Senate Energy and Natural Resources and House Natural Resources committees and many others worked around the clock last Congress to develop a bipartisan public lands package that includes the following:
- Permanently reauthorization of the Land and Water Conservation Fund with 3 percent dedicated to securing access opportunities for hunters and anglers;
- Implementation of the Frank and Jeanne Moore Wild Steelhead Special Management Area Designation Act;
- Permanent mineral withdrawal in Methow Valley, Washington;
- The bipartisan collaboration of the California Desert Protection and Recreation Act;
- Reauthorization of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Partners for Fish and Wildlife program at current funding levels until FY2022;
- Reauthorization of the Neotropical Migratory Bird Conservation Act at $6.5 million until FY2022;
- Designation of Cerro Del Yuta and Rio San Antonio as wilderness areas.
Now is the time for you to uphold leadership’s commitment to pass this meaningful, bipartisan legislation as a top priority during the 116th Congress. Sportsmen and women like me depend on you to conserve our wild public lands, waters and wildlife.
[Your Full Name]
Join me in urging your members of Congress to consider a public lands package that most Americans support.