Paul Spitler, Director of Wilderness Campaigns, (202)-360-1912, email@example.com
Dave Alberswerth, Senior Policy Advisor, (202) 429-2695, firstname.lastname@example.org
WASHINGTON, DC (February 5, 2014) – Today, the House of Representatives passed legislation that threatens essential hunting and fishing habitat and undermines critical environmental protections. Despite its name, the Sportsmen’s Heritage and Recreational Enhancement Act (H.R. 3590) could undermine protection for the 110 million acres of land safeguarded by America’s National Wilderness Preservation System and fails to conserve any fish and wildlife habitat.
“This package will do nothing to enhance recreational access for sportsmen or conserve critical wildlife habitat, and it dismantles the core principles of the Wilderness Act,” says Paul Spitler with The Wilderness Society. “Undermining habitat protections in wilderness is not good for sportsmen, and it is certainly not good for wildlife.”
H.R. 3590 includes provisions that could open protected wilderness areas to motorized vehicles, road construction, and other forms of development. Other language in the bill permits a federal agency to open or close an area to hunting or fishing, or develop shooting ranges on public land without considering public input or environmental impacts.
“Wilderness areas offer unparalleled hunting and fishing opportunities in large part because motorized recreation and development are not permitted there,” says Spitler. “Opening protected habitat to motorized vehicles would destroy the very qualities that make them so valuable for wildlife.”
H.R. 3590 does not include several key conservation programs which are essential for sportsmen, including the Land and Water Conservation Fund, which protects and enhances access for sportsmen to world-class hunting and angling opportunities and helps safeguard pristine fish and wildlife habitat. The legislation also excludes the Federal Land Transaction Facilitation Act, which is a proven and effective program that increases public access for hunting and fishing, and conserves wildlife habitat. This program expired in 2011. Further, the legislation does not include any of the more than two dozen bi-partisan conservation bills pending in the House of Representatives that would protect essential habitat on public lands.
“If the House of Representatives were truly interested in serving America’s hunters and anglers, they would pass the two dozen bipartisan conservation bills currently pending before the House,” says Spitler.