Editor's note: The name and bill number of the “Recreational Fishing and Hunting Heritage and Opportunities Act” (H.R 2834) has been changed to the “Sportsmen’s Heritage Act” (H.R. 4089)
TheWilderness Society urges anti-wilderness provisions struck before passage
The Wilderness Society strongly urged the House Natural Resources Committee today to remove two provisions buried in H.R. 2834, the “Recreational Fishing and Hunting Heritage and Opportunities Act” before it is passed out of committee. The provisions would eviscerate the Wilderness Act of 1964 and provide an exemption from the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA).
While the bill’s stated intention is to provide for continued recreational hunting and fishing opportunities on our federal public lands, Section 4(e) would allow activities that are incompatible in Wilderness -- such as motorized access, road construction, and even logging -- that would destroy the pristine characteristics of designated Wilderness Areas. Additionally, the bill would provide a complete exemption from NEPA.
“The title of the bill may misguide members of the committee into ignoring the devastating consequences for Wilderness protection that one section of the measure poses,” said Dave Alberswerth, senior policy advisor at The Wilderness Society. “If passed with that language intact, the bill will ruin quality hunting and fishing experiences in our nation’s Wilderness Areas and hurt local economies that depend on outdoor recreation.”
In a letter to the House Natural Resources Committee, The Wilderness Society’s vice president for public policy, Melanie Beller, stated:
The Wilderness Society strongly supports recreational hunting and fishing on our public lands and national forests. But though the expressed purpose of H.R. 2834 is to facilitate opportunities for hunting and fishing on these lands, the two objectionable provisions mentioned above would eviscerate protections afforded to tens of millions of acres of Congressionally designated Wilderness Areas that currently offer some or our nation’s highest quality angling and hunting opportunities, and waive a bedrock environmental law that should continue to apply to decisions made by federal land managers under the proposal.
While the Recreational Fishing and Hunting Heritage and Opportunities Act contains language that would eviscerate the Wilderness Act itself, the House Natural Resources Committee is considering other dangerous legislation. The Great Outdoors Giveaway, introduced by Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) would further erode protection of wilderness-quality Bureau of Land Management (BLM) lands and roadless National Forests. Additionally, Rep. Rob Bishop’s (R-UT) National Security and Federal Lands Protection Act would yield control of all public lands -- including National Parks, National Forests, National Wildlife Refuges, and BLM lands -- within 100 miles of American land borders to the Department of Homeland Security. Seven other House bills would eviscerate the President’s authority to designate new National Monuments granted under the Antiquities Act, a law established by Republican President Theodore Roosevelt in 1906.