NWF, Affiliates Call on Politicians to Support Public Lands

ESTES PARK, Colo. (June 16, 2016) – The National Wildlife Federation, America’s largest conservation organization, is joining members of its 50 state and territorial affiliates to urge elected officials and candidates to support keeping national public lands in public hands.

The overwhelming majority of Americans cherish their public lands, from national parks to forests to wildlife refuges to the great Western sagebrush steppe, said Collin O’Mara, the National Wildlife Federation’s president and CEO. Most Americans reject attempts to hand the lands over to individual states, sell them to the highest bidders or otherwise deprive the public of the land that belongs to everyone, he added.

During a news conference Thursday, before the start of the National Wildlife Federation’s annual meeting, O’Mara and representatives of NWF state affiliates from across the country stressed the importance of national public lands to fish and wildlife, the economy and Americans’ quality of life.

“Since 1936, when "Ding" Darling’s vision of a conservation army began to form with the founding of the National Wildlife Federation, this organization has been made up hunters and anglers, birders and gardeners, farmers and foresters--all of whom shared a passion for wildlife and conservation,” O’Mara said. “Now more than ever, we need to speak out for fish and wildlife, clean air and water and wild places. We are making it very perfectly clear to our political leaders and candidates that, if they want our support, we expect them to support America's public lands, to be responsible stewards, and to maintain the great conservation legacy built by their predecessors.”

Following are comments from NWF state affiliates:

"Public lands, whether in Colorado, Maine, Michigan, Florida, Kansas or Montana, encompass some of America's most beautiful scenic landscapes. These are the majestic coasts, mountains, prairies, forests, lakes and rivers where so many of us hike, bike, paddle, hunt, fish, watch birds and wildlife and build a lifetime of memories with our families and friends. While our federation represents people from across the political and social spectrum, we are united in opposing any attempts to steal, sell, or seize our national public lands from the ownership by all Americans into the hands of private and political interests.” ~ Bruce Wallace, Chairman of the National Wildlife Federation Board of Directors

"Public lands, from the mountains to the sagebrush steppe and rolling plains, support our fish and wildlife, hunting, fishing, wildlife watching and other outdoor recreation that generates more than $34  billion in economic activity annually in Colorado. This year, Colorado became the first state in the country to recognize how integral our public lands are to our economy and way of life by establishing an annual 'Public Lands Day.' " ~ Suzanne O’Neill, Colorado Wildlife Federation executive director

“South Carolinians, like Americans throughout the nation, are using and enjoying their public lands now more than ever. The idea of selling off or giving away our national parks, wildlife refuges, forests and rangelands is wrongheaded and short sighted. The overwhelming majority of voters are behind us and we must hold our elected officials accountable and demand that public lands forever remain in trust and stewardship for our children and grandchildren.”  ~ Ben Gregg, South Carolina Wildlife Federation executive director

“The takeover of public lands by the state means they could be sold for development. With such economic incentives, more attention needs to be focused on the benefit of these lands for tourism in the West. Wyoming alone sees $4.5 billion dollars of consumer spending per year from public-lands recreation. As is evident with the big crowds in our national parks, our public lands are highly prized by Americans for their intrinsic values. They also contribute to our well-being and provide clean water and air. Public lands are American's lasting legacy.” ~ Chamois Andersen, Wyoming Wildlife Federation executive director

To learn more about our national public lands, go to http://keepitpublic.nwf.org/

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