House bill undermines sportsmen’s access, wilderness and wildlife

Credit: flickr, Trevor Parker.

The House of Representatives is voting on a package of bills Feb. 4 that would threaten wilderness under the pretense of greater access for hunters and anglers.

Despite its hunter-friendly moniker, the so-called Sportsmen’s Heritage and Recreational Enhancement Act will not conserve a single acre of wildlife or fish habitat. Instead, it threatens millions of acres of wilderness by opening them up to motorized vehicles, road construction, and other development.

Tell Congress that threatening wilderness only hurts sportsmen.

Further, the bill omits several positive provisions that are vital to the protection of wild habitat. Among these are the chronically underfunded Land and Water Conservation Fund, which directs some royalties from offshore oil and gas drilling to be re-invested in public lands; the expired Federal Land Transaction Facilitation Act, a proven tool for preserving and guaranteeing access to western public lands; and more than two dozen bipartisan, locally-supported public lands bills that would safeguard essential fish and wildlife habitat, maintain access for sportsmen and boost local economies.

While this bill is a real threat to our wild heritage, it is by no means unique. Similar bills have been introduced in previous Congresses and are part of a larger trend of attempts to undermine wilderness protections. The previous Congress was the first since 1966 not to protect a single acre of wilderness. Meanwhile, proposals to open public lands to motorized vehicles and development have emerged again and again.

"Wilderness areas offer unparalleled hunting and fishing opportunities in large part because motorized recreation and development are not permitted there,” said Paul Spitler, senior representative for The Wilderness Society’s wildland designation campaign. “Opening protected habitat to motorized vehicles would destroy the very qualities that make them so valuable for wildlife.”

Ask your member of Congress to vote NO on  the “Sportsmen’s Heritage and Recreational Enhancement Act.”