House Votes to Advance Package of Public Lands Bills

News for Immediate Release
Feb. 26, 2021
Contact: Katie McKalip, 406-240-9262, [email protected]

Protecting America’s Wilderness and Public Lands Act includes longstanding hunter/angler priorities, conserves key Western landscapes

WASHINGTON – The U.S. House of Representatives voted today in support of a mammoth package of public lands bills, the Protecting America’s Wilderness and Public Lands Act (H.R. 803), advancing numerous sportsmen’s and women’s priorities and responding to the calls of Backcountry Hunters & Anglers members and many others who consistently advocated for conserving these public lands and waters.

H.R. 803 consists of nine bills that would designate about 1.49 million acres of public land as wilderness, incorporate more than 1,000 river miles as part of the National Wild and Scenic Rivers System and ensure that wildlife habitat across approximately 1.3 million acres of public land will remain permanently intact. The package includes the following:

The Arizona, California, Colorado, Oregon and Washington chapters of BHA sent a letter to House leadership in support of the package. Chapter members today commended its passage:

“The Arizona Chapter of Backcountry Hunters & Anglers applauds House leadership for prioritizing our public lands and waters early this Congress,” said Justin Nelson of Mesa, chairman of AZ BHA. “The Grand Canyon Protection Act in H.R. 803 would help permanently protect the Grand Canyon National Park’s complex watershed from pollution created by new mining development. Passage of this legislation helps conserve our wild places for future generations.”

“The California Chapter of Backcountry Hunters & Anglers has been a longstanding supporter of the San Gabriel Mountains Foothills and Rivers Protection Act; the Northwest California Wilderness, Recreation, and Working Forests Act; and the Central Coast Heritage Protection Act,” said Nick Fasciano, chairman of CA BHA. “In addition to promoting public access, these bills will help to conserve California’s public lands through collectively adding hundreds of thousands of acres of wilderness to and expanding the San Gabriel Mountains National Monument, sustaining the health of our waters through the addition of hundreds of miles of Wild and Scenic River designations, and safeguarding our state from catastrophic wildfire through enhancing wildfire management coordination in wilderness areas.

“This past year has shown us the high value that Californians place on our public lands as we turn to them for solace and recreation,” continued Fasciano, of Sacramento, “and it has also shown us again the dire need for continually enhancing wildfire management capabilities. This is important and necessary legislation, and we thank our House leaders for bringing it forward.”

“With the progress of Representative DeGette's Colorado Wilderness Act and Representative Neguse's CORE Act, the Colorado Chapter of Backcountry Hunters & Anglers believes we are one step closer to securing needed protections for Colorado’s remaining wild landscapes, places that are vital to supporting healthy wildlife populations,” said David Lien, co-chairman for CO BHA and a resident of Colorado Springs. “Thank you, representatives, for your work and dedication on behalf of our public lands, waters and wildlife.”

“Hunters and anglers in the state of Oregon have long been the voice of our public lands and waters,” said Danny Miller of Coburg, who is southwest regional director for OR BHA. “The Oregon Chapter of Backcountry Hunters & Anglers thanks Rep. DeFazio for his leadership on the Southwestern Oregon Salmon and Watershed Protection Act. This bill safeguards the southwestern Oregon communities that depend on outdoor opportunities, including hunting and fishing, and supports the growing river-based recreation economy.”

“The Wild Olympics proposal contains some of the most amazing and pristine fishing and backcountry experiences in North America and has the support of hunters and anglers throughout the Pacific Northwest,” said Matt Little, conservation and policy leader for WA BHA, who lives in Camas. “The Washington Chapter of Backcountry Hunters & Anglers fully supports this proposal that will protect at-risk fisheries and support outdoor businesses and the local economy, all while enhancing the public land opportunities for every American.”

BHA President and CEO Land Tawney commended the tenacity of grassroots sportsmen and women who drove forward the measures and the willingness of House leaders to heed their call.

“Today we were reminded that our voices do count,” said Tawney. “Our outspoken support ensured that the measures contained within this package, some of which were passed by the House in the previous Congress but never advanced in the Senate, are now receiving the consideration they are due.

“Backcountry Hunters & Anglers offers a big high five to our elected leaders in the House of Representatives,” Tawney continued. “House decision makers appreciate the importance of these bills – and the critically valuable public lands and waters they can conserve – and prioritized their consideration in the opening days of the 117th Congress and the Biden administration.

“Now, on to the Senate!” concluded Tawney. “Together, when we use our voices – as sportsmen and women, as conservationists, and as citizens – we can secure the future of America’s public lands and waters and the opportunities, adventure and solace they provide us all.”

Backcountry Hunters & Anglers is the voice
for our wild public lands, waters and wildlife.

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