Congress Rolls Out Legislation to Roll Back Protections for Public Lands and Wildlife

America's wild places and wildlife take a backseat in the House of Representatives

07-27-2011 // Mekell Mikell, Ph.D.
Photo of trees and Allegheny Mountains in Dolly Sods Wilderness area, Monongahela National Forest in West Virginia

The House Natural Resources Committee National Parks, Forests & Public Lands Subcommittee received testimony on H.R. 1581, the Wilderness and Roadless Area Release Act of 2011.

Kate Zimmerman, senior policy advisor on public lands for the National Wildlife Federation, said: 

“A pattern is beginning to emerge from a narrow group of ideologically isolated members that attack one of America’s most unique assets:  Public Lands.  With legislation like H.R. 1581 and similar bills that bypass key conservation laws, block agencies from implementing sound management measures, and exclude public oversight, the outdoor recreation community should be very concerned these members do not have our best interest in mind. These bills, if passed could have a devastating consequence on the hunting and fishing community by endangering vital wildlife habitat.

“Sportsmen and women around the country are deeply troubled by the Wilderness and Roadless Areas Release Act. This legislation would release nearly 60 million acres of wild protected lands and open them to industry and the destructive process of oil and gas development.  Many of these areas are currently critical to maintaining trophy game habitat and key areas for native fish.

The sportsmen community is a huge economic driver in the U.S.  According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, hunting, fishing and wildlife viewing contribute over $122 billion into the American economy every year, and outdoor recreation, in general, accounts for nearly $730 billion according to the Outdoor Industry Association. If lawmakers would recognize the economic value of protecting our public lands, we wouldn’t see these extreme, out of touch bills littering the political landscape.”

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