Posts tagged: Congress
PUBLIC LANDS — The House of Representatives voted Tuesday to pass the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore Conservation and Recreation Act, sending the measure to President Barack Obama to be signed into law.
The bill, which passed in the Senate in June, will protect more than 32,500 acres in Michigan, including pristine shoreline and forests on the coast of Lake Michigan.
It will be the first new wilderness designated during the 113th Congress.
Meanwhile the wilderness debate is going on across the country. Here are examples from publications in Montana and Utah:
USFS chief discusses divide on wilderness debate
As part of the “Room to Roam” Wilderness Issues Lecture Series hosted by the Wilderness Institute at the University of Montana in Missoula, U.S. Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell talked about the need for untrammeled wild areas, provided his agency's perspective on current wilderness proposals before Congress and the agency's ability to respond to change.
Quote of the day:
“It's hard for me to say the 'w' word, but I believe the state can do a better job and there are areas that need to be protected. They are special areas for people.”
Rep. Mike Noel, the chair of the Utah House Natural Resources, Agriculture and Environment Committee, about the Utah Wilderness Act the panel approved on Tuesday.
- Salt Lake Tribune
CONSERVATION — Some conservationists didn't hide their happiness to hear that Rep. Doc Hastings, R-Wash., is retiring after 20 years in Congress, an unexpected announcement that drew both cheers and jeers Thursday in the nation’s capital.
As chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee, he's been a barrier to many efforts championed by environmentalists, especially those who objected to his persistent moves to open more public lands to development and to change laws dealing with endangered species, among other things.
“It’s really good riddance,” said Athan Manuel, director of the lands protection program for the Sierra Club.
Click “continue reading” for the full story from the McClatchy Washington Bureau.
CONSERVATION — If we're handing out medals for bravery this week, save one for Rep. Dave Reichert, R-Wash., who broke ranks with House Republican leaders on Wednesday to save the vital Land and Water Conservation Fund.
Reichert was among a small number of GOP lawmakers, along with House Democrats, who saved the LWCF from elimination on a 216-212 vote, says environmental reporter Joel Connelly on seattlepi.com.
The funding has been a critical force in conservation across the country, with 48 years of examples in Washington state including state parks projects, salmon recovery, farmland preservation, endangered species protection and cleaning up mine claims in the North Cascades National Park.
PUBLIC LANDS — A bill by U.S. Sen. Jon Tester, (D-Mont.) to expand wilderness and mandate more logging on federal lands in Montana has passed its first test, according to the Associated Press .
The Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources voted today to move the Tester's Forest Jobs and Recreation Act to the full Senate.
The approval comes despite opposition by Republicans on the committee. The measure designates 640,000 acres of forest as permanent wilderness while calling for logging on 100,000 acres.
Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski argued that is not a fair trade.
Tester introduced the bill during his first term in 2009, touting it as a compromise between environmentalists and loggers.
Committee Chairman Ron Wyden of Oregon said Tester made it clear that he will continue to work with people in Montana to make sure the measure works.
HUNTING — The pressure on sportsmen applied by the NRA and other gun rights organizations to “vote their sport” is particularly troubling since in the past 25 years it’s strayed from the big picture of fish, wildlife and habitat conservation to the narrow premise that a candidate is viable only if he has an unblemished record of opposing gun control.
This narrow approach to voting in 1994 helped unseat former Speaker of the House Tom Foley, the last major Washington candidate, I believe, to pose in a duck blind with a shotgun for statewide campaign ads.
Sportsmen are distinguished for being politically savvy, but they got snookered in that election.
RIP Tom Foley. I hope sportsmen reflect on your service and ability to work with all parties to keep wildlife in the equation.
PUBLIC LANDS — As the House and Senate continue to battle over a budget compromise, the impact of a potential government shutdown on Washington state would be a pain for some people, but it wouldn't necessarily be earth-shattering to the short-term plans of outdoors enthusiasts.
If Congress fails to reach an agreement by midnight, all national parks and refuges would be closed, as well as national monuments like Mount St. Helens, and Forest Service ranger stations would be closed.
Visitors using overnight campgrounds or other park facilities would be given 48 hours to make alternate arrangements and leave the park.
However, access would still be allowed to national forests and state lands would not be affected.
PUBLIC LANDS – U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA) urged a key Senate subcommittee today to move forward on a bill to preserve the historic Green Mountain Lookout in the Glacier Peak Wilderness near Darrington, Wash.
Wilderness advocates have pressed the Forest Service to remove the historic lookout, in part because its precarious location requires helicopter maintenance in violation of wilderness rules.
Darrington-area groups are trying to keep the lookout intact for visitors.
Cantwell advocated for the passage of the Green Mountain Lookout Heritage Protection Act (S. 404) on Tuesday, during a hearing in the Public Lands, Forestry and Mining Subcommittee of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee.
A representative of the U.S. Forest Service voiced the department’s support for S. 404 during the hearing, and said that local residents wanted the lookout to remain at Green Mountain.
Read on for more details and links to Cantwell's statements.
FORESTS – Longstanding proposals to protect rivers and forests in Oregon as wilderness areas have been reintroduced in Congress by Oregon’s two senators.
The bills would expand the Oregon Caves National Monument and Wild Rogue Wilderness in southwestern Oregon, create new wilderness along the John Day River in Central Oregon, and create the Devil’s Staircase Wilderness to protect old growth forest in the Coast Range on the Siuslaw National Forest. They also would elevate Wild and Scenic Rivers Act protections for the Chetco River in southwestern Oregon, and the Molalla River south of Portland.
Some of the areas were first proposed for wilderness 30 years ago.
Read on for more details on the current legislation as reported by the Associated Press.
HUNTING — More details on the U.S. Senate vote this week turning down the Sportsmen's Act:
The failure of the U.S. Senate to pass the Sportsmen's Act of 2012, sponsored by Montana U.S. Sen. Jon Tester, came as a surprise to many who believed the measures contained in the bill enjoyed wide-ranging public support, but Alabama Republican Sen. Jeff Sessions said the bill exceeded spending limits passed by the Senate in 2011 to address federal debt, and for that reason alone, the bill failed.
Great Falls Tribune
See stories on the optimism the act would pass a day before the Monday vote.
Today, the U.S. Senate will vote on, and likely pass, Montana U.S. Sen. Jon Tester's “Sportsmen's Act of 2012,” a grab bag of bills dealing with hunting, fishing, conservation and public access measures, but environmental groups said there are problems with some of the measures, including one that would preclude the EPA from banning the use of lead in ammunition.
ENVIRONMENT — Local experts will discuss “The Clean Water Act at 40” and its implications to the Spokane River in a public panel discussion Wednesday (Nov. 7), 6 p.m. at The Community Buildling, 35 W. Main St.
“In October of 1972 Congress signed in to law a historic piece of legislation that to this day continues to help clean up and protect the Spokane River,” says Spokane RiverKeeper Bart Mihailovich, sponsor of the event.
The discussion and public Q&A opportunities will be moderated by Rick Eichstaedt, executive director of the Center for Justice and a Clean Water Act expert.
Read on for details about the local panelists — and the REFRESHMENTS that will be available.
RIVERS — The House Natural Resources Committee held a hearing in Pasco toda on “save our dams” legislation introduced by Congressman Doc Hastings.
The Tri-City Herald reports the legislation would prohibit federal money from being used to remove hydropower dams without specific authorization by Congress.
The bill also would:
Shouldn't the bill also assure the public knows the value of fish and wildlife lost to power production, and the associated health issues, and the cost to subsidize the barging industry and the federal cost to replace the dams and deal with the silt issues that will come to a head in the next few decades?
There's a cost to everything. To peg fish and wildlife as the villain is disingenuous.
ENVIRONMENT — Can we expect a “Sportsmen's Act” introduced in Congress to actually be in the best interest of hunters and anglers?
A Missoulian opinion columnist is skeptical in this column.
“Those who watch Congress have surely noticed an alarming trend of putting misleading titles on bills and policies that actually do the opposite of what they say,” writes George Ochenski.
President Bush’s “Healthy Forests Initiative” provided ways to clearcut national forests without environmental review or public oversight. Likewise, Bush’s “Clean Skies” legislation made it easier for corporations to pollute. The USA PATRIOT Act has nothing to do with patriots and everything to do with spying on citizens. And now we have H.R. 4089, the Sportsmen’s Heritage Act of 2012 that, in reality, would undercut the 1964 Wilderness Act and destroy what remains of the nation’s once-great natural heritage.
HUNTING/FISHING — Safari Club International and the NRA are praising the U.S. House of Representatives today for passing H.R. 4089, the Sportsmen’s Heritage Act of 2012, advancing the controversial legislation to the Senate.
The legislation has good parts on which most sportsmen can agree. But it also has divisive components that warrant sending it back to the drawing board. Sportsmen really don't need any more divisiveness. We see how little gets done in Congress under those conditions. Why not learn from that?
Read on for details about the act and why reasonable sportsmen should contact their senators to kill it.
TRAILS — The Inland Northwest, with its fabulous system of rail trails, has insight to what would be lost if a malicious defunding bill gets anywhere in Congress.
The Rails to Trails Conservancy is calling H.R. 7 — the American Energy and Infrastructure Jobs Act of 2012 — “atrocious” for several reasons.
If it passes the House floor and becomes law as it stands, the bill would:
A coalition of groups, including cyclists, hikers, conservationist and others, is trying to get word out to defeat this bill when it comes to the House floor—expected to begin Tuesday.
American Trails is keeping track of several trails-related bills.
ENVIRONMENT — Rep. Michael Simpson, R-Idaho, has made the Los Angeles Times list of Congress's 10 most powerful and outspoken opponents of clean air, clean water, conservation and climate action.
Simpson has stepped to the front lines of his party's war on Mother Nature by adding dozens of anti-environment riders to must-pass budget legislation.
See the entire list and some entertaining background.
CONSERVATION — Two Washington lawmakers led a bipartisan group of 131 sponsors to introduce legislation Thursday to assure an administrative rule protecting 58.5 million acres of wild roadless areas on America's public lands
Led by Sen. Maria Cantwell and Rep. Jay Inslee of Washington, a group of sponsored by 20 Senate and 111 bipartisan House co-sponsors introduced the legislation to bolster the recent Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals decision upholding the 2001 Roadless Area Conservation Rule.
The Roadless Area Conservation Act will confirm long-term protections against damaging commercial logging and road-building for vulnerable wildlands on 30 percent of the 193-million-acre National Forest System, shielding roadless areas from political tides and whims of future administrations.
Roadless areas provide many benefits to Americans and wildlife: They safeguard the source of drinking water of 60 million Americans; they contain some of the most important fish and wildlife habitat in National Forests; and they provide abundant opportunities for quality outdoor recreation such as hunting, fishing, and backpacking, supporting an industry that contributes an estimated $730 billion to the U.S. economy each year.
National forests cover 9.2 million acres of Washington – about one-fifth of the state’s total land mass. There are two million acres of inventoried roadless areas in the Evergreen State, including sites like Kettle River Range, Dark Divide and Lena Lake.
Sen. Cantwell's office prepared this report highlighting the economic, environmental and societal benefits that roadless areas provide.
OUTDOOR MEDIA — The Field & Stream magazine bloggers have posted several items of notable interest to Inland northwest sportsmen, including a national story from Congress that directly impacts our wildlife resources.
NATIONAL FORESTS — A proposal that would allow ski areas to potentially expand activities to biking, zip lines and rope courses — legislation that likely would create jobs in mountain towns — passed the U.S. Senate late Tuesday and is likely to be signed quickly by President Obama.
The measure passed unanimously in the U.S. House of Representatives.
The proposed law would allow ski areas to apply to use national-forest land for activities in the spring, summer and fall. Though some areas already boast summertime activities on nearby private land, this bill would allow areas to apply to build whole summer activity parks on public land with National Forest Service approval.
ENVIRONMENT — A coalition of sportmens groups this week strongly criticized the House Transportation Committee for passing legislation that would dramatically weaken the Clean Water Act and undercut four decades of progress in restoring the nation’s waters and wetlands and conserving valuable fish and wildlife habitat.
This is not rocket science: Clean water is better for fish than polluted water. Ditto for humans.
The Clean Water Act dates back to 1972 and the Nixon Administration.
“The Clean Water Act has led to immense progress nationwide in cleaning up our waters, restoring fish habitat, protecting drinking water sources, reducing wetlands loss and developing water-based recreational economies,” said Steve Kline, director of the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership’s Center for Agricultural and Private Lands. “While states play a lead role in implementing some CWA protections, the law does not function without a federal backstop that ensures its goals are met.
Waters and wetlands in the United States sustain the activities of 40 million anglers, who spend about $45 billion annually, and 2.3 million waterfowl hunters, who spend $1.3 billion annually.