BHA Celebrates Public Lands Bill’s Passage into Law

News for Immediate Release
March 12, 2019
Contact: Katie McKalip, 406-240-9262, [email protected]


President signs S. 47, most significant conservation legislation in a decade,
following strong support by Congress and advocacy by sportsmen and women


WASHINGTON – Public lands sportsmen and women are celebrating a significant victory following the president’s signing a massive package of conservation and access bills into the law of the land.

Permanent reauthorization of the Land and Water Conservation Fund; conservation of valuable habitat in Montana, Oregon, Washington and California; and establishment of wilderness areas in New Mexico, along with reauthorization of key federal resources programs, are among the wins in S. 47, renamed the John D. Dingell Jr. Conservation, Management and Recreation Act in honor of the long-serving member of Congress who died last month.

Backcountry Hunters & Anglers members consistently and enthusiastically advocated for S. 47, particularly the permanent reauthorization of LWCF, and BHA President and CEO Land Tawney lauded the bill’s passage into law.

“Together, the public lands grassroots nation rose up to ensure the passage of this historic bill,” said Tawney. “We wrote letters, we made phone calls, we met with our elected officials and we traveled from across the country to Washington, D.C., and together we made our voices heard. Today we can celebrate a victory that has been years in the making.

“Every victory starts with a vision, and it is carried forward by champions whose resolve never wavers, even in the face of tremendous adversity,” Tawney continued. “Our allies in Congress helped assure that this important legislation advanced, and in doing so they heeded the will of a citizenry and a conservation legacy set in motion by our forefathers. President Trump, hopefully, woke up this morning and asked himself, ‘What would Theodore Roosevelt do?’ before signing this momentous package of bills into law. Our thanks go to the president, Congress and the countless individuals who stepped up to make this happen. We the people are just getting started and have the mandate to do more!”

Passage of S. 47 was made possible by a bipartisan group of congressional leaders, including Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee Chairman Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), former Ranking Member Maria Cantwell (D-WA), House Natural Resources Committee Chairman Raúl Grijalva (D-AZ) and Ranking Member Rob Bishop (R-UT). S. 47 passed the Senate on Feb. 12 in an overwhelming 92-8 vote and advanced through the House on Feb. 26 in a vote of 363-62.

BHA grassroots members from across the country spoke up in support of S. 47.

“This bill is an important final step in protecting key lands used by generations of hunters and anglers in both southern and northern New Mexico,” said Joel Gay, BHA New Mexico chapter policy coordinator, who lives in Albuquerque. “The John D. Dingell Jr. Conservation, Management and Recreation Act will provide permanent protection for critical habitat for mule deer, elk and bighorn sheep and for streams that harbor our state fish, the Rio Grande cutthroat trout. The New Mexico chapter of Backcountry Hunters & Anglers applauds Congress for its bipartisan effort on behalf of sportsmen and women.”

“Sportsmen and women from across the Northwest have long treasured the Methow Valley for its vast and wild public lands,” said Ryan Los, a Washington BHA chapter board member, who lives in Wenatchee. “I grew up driving over four hours between my dad’s and grandpa’s houses to the Methow and its tributaries every fall. I shot my first deer in one of those drainages. I applaud Senator Cantwell and others in our state for their bipartisan leadership work to permanently protect the headwaters of the Methow and permanently reauthorize the Land and Water Conservation Fund.”

“Montanans feed our families and our souls thanks to the public lands and waters within our state and therefore support robust conservation funding to bolster our fish and wildlife and outdoor traditions,” said Christian Appel, a member of BHA’s Montana chapter board who lives in Bozeman. “We’re proud that all of our congressional delegates voted the right way on S. 47. In particular, the Yellowstone Gateway Protection Act permanently removes more than 30,000 acres of public lands from mineral exploration and extraction. This land, situated just outside of Yellowstone National Park, provides some of the best hunting and fishing opportunities in the state. Montanans everywhere should feel relief that these acres – and the outdoor activities they provide – now are conserved for future generations.”

“We’re thrilled to see some of our most critical Southern California desert habitat gain designation as wilderness with the passage of S. 47,” said Justin Bubenik, co-chair of BHA’s California chapter, from Pasadena. “These newly minted wilderness areas will provide additional protections to critical habitat of our local wildlife – from our state bird, the California quail, to the desert bighorn sheep – and promises to benefit all recreational users. We thank our representatives in the Senate and House and our partner groups for their efforts in passing this critical legislation.”

“The Oregon chapter of BHA is committed to the conservation of North America’s native species,” said Ian Isaacson, co-chair of BHA’s Oregon chapter board and a resident of Bend. “This is why we are excited about the passage of the Frank and Jeanne Moore Wild Steelhead Sanctuary Act. The passage of this bill is a culmination of a multi-year collaborative effort, which will result in the conservation of 100,000 acres of the most critical and pristine wild steelhead habitat in the Pacific Northwest. While we all take this moment to celebrate, know that the Oregon chapter will not stand idle as we continue to identify other opportunities around this state to secure similar victories for fish and game species iconic to the American west.”

Read more about the measures contained within S. 47.


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for our wild public lands, waters and wildlife.


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