Policy Updates

November saw significant action on the floor of the House of Representatives with two enormous legislative packages passing, both the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act and the Build Back Better Act. President Biden has already signed the former, and the latter will now move on to the Senate. Both of these include policies with significant benefits for public lands, waters and wildlife. Additionally, this month the House and Senate each held markups on legislative priorities supported by BHA. 

Bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act 

After several months of negotiations following passage by the Senate, the House passed this massive $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill with a vote of 228-206 on Nov. 5. The bill includes provisions aimed at reclaiming public lands impacted by extractive development, maintenance and repair of Forest Service roads and trails, improvement of fish and wildlife habitat connectivity, and wildfire risk reduction. On Nov. 15, President Biden signed the bill into law. 

Of important note, the legislation creates a new program focused on the reclamation of abandoned hardrock mines. This program was authorized for $3 billion; however, going forward BHA will be encouraging Congress to provide funding for this critical program, which will restore fish and wildlife habitat contaminated by mine tailings and runoff. Other key programs and funding in the bill can be found below:  

  • Creating a new program designed to reduce wildlife collisions on highways and roads while improving habitat connectivity for wildlife based on sound science, to be funded at $350 million 
  • Authorizing $11.29 billion for the Abandoned Mine Reclamation Fund to restore land and water degraded by coal mining 
  • Appropriating $4.67 billion for the plugging, remediation and reclamation of orphaned oil and gas wells 
  • Appropriating $250 million for the Forest Service Legacy Roads and Trail Remediation Program, which will improve water quality and aquatic habitat while making Forest Service roads and trails more durable 
  • Appropriating $1 billion for the National Culvert Removal, Replacement and Restoration Grant Program to improve the passage and survival of anadromous fish species 
  • Appropriating $3.3 billion for wildfire risk reduction 
  • Removing the funding cap for the Reforestation Trust Fund, which will help the Forest Service plant 1.2 billion trees and address the backlog of 2 million acres of national forestland in need of reforestation 

Read BHA’s press release here. 

Build Back Better Act 

The partisan budget reconciliation bill that sidesteps the filibuster was passed by the House on Nov. 19, following months of negotiations between both chambers of Congress and the White House. The Senate continues to negotiate its version of the bill. Congressional leadership plans to pass a finalized version of the bill by the Christmas recess; however, that timeline may slip. BHA staff are working to ensure that the version taken up by the Senate still contains the important conservation priorities below that were included by the House: 

  • Repealing the oil and gas leasing program in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and buying back existing leases 
  • Appropriating $240 million to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for the National Wildlife Refuge System and state wildlife management areas 
  • Appropriating $9.7 million to the USFWS for the conservation of wildlife corridors 
  • Appropriating $38.8 million to the USFWS for grassland restoration and protection 
  • Appropriating $2.5 billion to the National Park Service and Bureau of Land Management for ecosystem restoration, habitat improvement and land management 
  • Appropriating $27 billion for forestry and wildfire programs, including $14 billion for wildfire management through hazardous fuels reduction, $1.25 billion to the Forest Service for the Forest Legacy Program, and $450 million for the Forest Service Legacy Roads and Trails Program 
  • Appropriating $3 million for the BLM to revise rules and regulations to prevent the degradation of public lands from hardrock mining 

Absent from the legislation was previously included language to modernize the 1872 Mining Law, specifically through addition of a royalty that would raise $1 billion for the reclamation of abandoned hardrock mines. Currently royalties are paid by every other major industry engaged in resource extraction on public lands. BHA will continue to advocate to modernize the 1872 Mining Law to achieve parity with other industries and fund reclamation efforts. 

Read BHA’s press release here. 


Even now that the Senate has released its slate of spending bills for the 2022 fiscal year, topline negotiations between Democrats and Republicans have yet to be finalized. As a result, the current continuing resolution (CR) on which the government is operating will likely be extended yet again. This will give more time for Congress to negotiate spending levels for the 2022 fiscal year, which began in October.  

The Senate’s Interior and Environment appropriations bill includes several important funding increases supported by BHA, including for the Bureau of Land Management, Forest Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and National Wildlife Refuge System. The Interior and Environment appropriations bill previously passed by the House also included similar increases. Notably, neither the House nor Senate versions includes the historic anti-science sage grouse policy rider. The removal of this rider is important for sage grouse recovery, and science should direct species recovery, not politics. If the gridlock cannot be solved, a yearlong CR may be the only path forward. This would forgo these new funding increases and maintain spending levels from the previous year. 

Public Land Renewable Energy Development Act (PLREDA) 

This historically bipartisan legislation was introduced as two identical bills this year, one led by Rep. Mike Levin (D-CA) and one by Rep. Paul Gosar (R-AZ). PLREDA would promote a forward-looking management system for renewable energy projects on public land. This would include planning aimed at avoiding important wildlife habitat as well as directing 25% of royalties to a specific conservation fund for the restoration of fish and wildlife habitat. In a November markup by the House Natural Resources Committee, PLREDA was reported out unanimously. 

Take action here to support the Public Land Renewable Energy Development Act.  

Legislation Before the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee  

This month the committee held a markup on 24 pieces of legislation, including several bills that BHA has supported advancing:

  • Sen. Wyden’s (D-OR) Oregon Recreation Enhancement Act (S. 1589), which would establish a 30,000-acre Molalla Recreation Area and 98,000-acre Rogue Canyon Recreation Area, expand the existing Wild Rogue Wilderness Area by 60,000 acres, and permanently withdraw 100,000 acres of Forest Service land from mining near the Kalmiopsis Wilderness Area, an important headwater. 
  • Sen. Cortez Masto’s (D-NV) Ruby Mountains Protection Act (S. 609), which would prohibit oil and gas development within over 300,000 acres of the Ruby Mountains and nearly 40,000 acres of the Ruby Lake National Wildlife Refuge, a region home to Nevada’s largest mule deer herd.  
  • Sen. Risch’s (R-ID) MAPLand Act (S. 607), which would direct the Department of the Interior, Forest Service and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to digitize and publish geographic information mapping data for the use of outdoor recreation, including rights-of-way in private lands, the status of roads and trails, boundaries of areas where hunting and shooting are regulated, and more. 

Now that these bills have been favorably reported by the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, the next step is for them to move to the Senate floor.  

FWS Director Nomination 

This month the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee held a hearing on the nomination of Martha Williams as director for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Given that Williams is a hunter and an angler, and based on her past work alongside BHA, we are confident she will be a capable leader in this role. Williams has a long career in fish and wildlife management, including as director of the Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks, as the Interior Department’s deputy solicitor for parks and wildlife, and currently as the principal deputy director of the USFWS. BHA hopes to see her nomination move forward as quickly as possible with a vote by the full Senate. 

Read BHA’s press release here. 

Interior Assistant Secretary – Lands and Minerals Nomination 

The nomination of Laura Daniel-Davis was advanced after a vote this month by the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee. In addition to having served in the Interior Department under two previous presidential administrations, she has most recently worked at the National Wildlife Federation as chief of policy and advocacy. BHA also hopes to see her nomination move forward as quickly as possible with a vote by the full Senate. 

Read BHA’s press release here. 

Alaska Roadless Rule 

On Nov. 23, the U.S. Department of Agriculture began a 60-day comment period to consider the repeal of the 2020 Alaska Roadless Rule and to reinstate protections for over 9 million acres of the Tongass National Forest. Over the summer the Biden administration announced that the USDA would launch the rulemaking process to consider restoring Roadless Rule protections, which were removed by the previous administration. The Tongass is United States’ largest national forest and contains nearly 15,000 miles of documented anadromous rivers and streams, providing critical spawning habitat for wild salmon in addition to habitat for brown and black bears, Sitka black-tailed deer, and mountain goats.

Take action here to share your comment with USDA.

Read BHA’s press release here