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Conservation - One more Step

28 February 2019


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“We abuse land because we regard it as a commodity belonging to us. When we see land as a community to which we belong, we may begin to use it with love and respect.”

– Aldo Leopold

A vote by the U.S. House of Representatives 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. The legislation now heads to the president’s desk.

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)1 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 363-62 with 6 non-votes2 vote in support of the measure.

The House vote was a resounding affirmation of bipartisan support for the legislation. The bill includes measures sought by lawmakers from most every state, including a smattering of pet projects, and might also be an indication that to reach broad consensus in Washington, D.C., the sausage-making requires a serving or two of locally sourced pork.

The House passed the bill, under suspension of its rules, which means it required a two-thirds vote of approval.

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.

“The masses are awakening, and the public lands revolution is growing,” Backcountry Hunters & Anglers President and CEO Land Tawney said. “Today’s vote by the House of Representatives, coming on the heels of the Senate’s overwhelming support of S. 47 earlier this month, proves without a doubt that citizens’ voices do count and our nation’s congressional leaders can come together to advance meaningful bipartisan legislation.”

The act’s passage through the Senate and now the House comes at a time when politics are particularly contentious and split. But because it touches on all 50 states and appeases environmentalists, anglers, sportsmen, and every other variety of recreationists, the legislation received support from both sides of the aisle, with little debate on the House floor.

Voting Breakdown

As mentioned earlier the voting was 363-62 with 6 non-votes.

Footnotes




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