National Policy Roundup

Boundary Waters

Land Tawney testified before the House Natural Resources Subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resources advocating for Reps. Betty McCollum's (D-MN) and Francis Rooney’s (R-FL) Boundary Waters Wilderness Protection and Pollution Prevention Act (H.R. 5598). H.R. 5598 permanently protects public lands within the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness watershed from copper-nickel mining. This is an effort that BHA and the Sportsmen for the Boundary Waters are leading for hunters and anglers.

Other witnesses testifying in support of H.R. 5598 and alongside Land included Jason Zabokrtsky, founder of Ely Outfitting Company, and Tom Tidwell, former chief of the U.S. Forest Service. You can watch Land’s opening statement here.

Join BHA in asking your representative to cosponsor the Boundary Waters Wilderness Protection and Pollution Prevention Act.

Passage of Wilderness Bills

The House passed a legislative package that included Washington and California chapters’ priority bills, including the following:

  • The San Gabriel Mountains Foothills and Rivers Protection Act, which establishes a national recreation area and expands the boundaries of the San Gabriel Mountains National Monument to conserve terrestrial habitat for bighorn sheep, black bear, California and mountain quail and other game species important to hunters;
  • The Central Coast Heritage Protection Act, which safeguards access to public land from further urbanization along the state’s coast and inland communities;
  • The Northwest California Wilderness, Recreation and Working Forests Act, which provides critical provisions that support hunting, fishing, public access and other recreational opportunities while pursuing fire resilient management practices that benefit local communities in northern California;
  • The Wild Olympics Wilderness and Wild and Scenic Rivers Act, which provides the necessary designations to restore once thriving wild salmon and steelhead habitat in the Olympic Peninsula in Washington.

Sens. Kamala Harris (D-CA) and Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) sponsored the Senate companion bills of the California-oriented legislation and introduced the Protecting Unique and Beautiful Landscapes by Investing in California (PUBLIC) Lands Act (S. 3288), a package of the bills mentioned above excluding the Washington state measure.

Supplemental EIS for Sage Grouse

The Bureau of Land Management released six draft supplemental environmental impact statements (EIS) for sage grouse management plans issued in 2019. BHA, other hunting and angling organizations and local stakeholders across the West came together in 2015 with an unprecedented collaboration to tailor home-grown solutions that advanced conservation in sagebrush country and averted the need to list the greater sage-grouse under the Endangered Species Act. A listing decision is bad business for all Westerners but especially ranchers, the energy industry and sportsmen and women.

Yet this success story continues to be the target of repeated attacks from the current administration. Unraveling these conservation plans not only threatens sage grouse habitat; it also creates greater uncertainty for big game populations like elk, pronghorn and mule deer. Instead of catering to outsiders and special interests, the administration should keep its promise to the West and allow science to guide land management decisions. Implementing the 2015 plans as originally envisioned respects the time and investment made by so many - and gives us the best chance of avoiding and ESA listing for the bird while maintaining the flexibility to compensate for new science and information that will continue to inform management models going forward. Let’s keep decisions about the future of wildlife and habitat in the hands of biologists and away from politicians and outsiders motivated by special interests.

John D. Dingell Jr. Conservation, Management and Recreation Act

Only one day remains to submit public access nominations to the Bureau of Land Management! The agency is inviting the public to nominate hunting, fishing and outdoor recreation lands under BLM’s jurisdiction that encompass at least 640 contiguous acres and lack legal public access or have access that is significantly restricted. These nominations will help inform the BLM's public access projects moving forward. The deadline for submissions is Feb. 29.

The U.S. Forest Service has opened a public comment period as well and is asking citizens to nominate landlocked public lands (or lands with significant restrictions on public access). The deadline for the USFS comment period is March 12. 

Nominate Lands to the Forest Service