December 5, 2005
Contact: Brian O’Donnell, Director, TU Public Lands Initiative, (970) 903-0276 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Trout Unlimited Leads Opposition to Public Lands Fire-Sale
Washington - Trout Unlimited (TU), North America’s largest coldwater fisheries conservation organization, is leading the opposition to legislation that that would allow public lands to be sold to mining companies and other development interests for $1,000 an acre. This legislation recently passed the House of Representatives in the form of the so-called Reconciliation Bill
Brian O’Donnell, the director of TU’s Public Lands Initiative, said, “TU chapters and other sportsmen dedicate hundreds of thousands of hours in volunteer labor to restore degraded streams and watersheds on public lands. This fire-sale of publicly-owned lands and waters is a slap in the face to those efforts.”
The provision, inserted into the middle of a more than 6oo page bill without any legislative hearings or public involvement, would lift an 11-year moratorium that allows mining companies to buy public lands. The provision also makes it possible for real estate interests and other developers to buy public land for $1000 an acre.
“You can be sure that someone is going to make a lot of money off of developing public lands into resorts or second homes, or other developments. But it isn’t likely to be the people that use and care for the land the most – the 45 million Americans who fish and hunt,” said O’Donnell.
The future of the House-passed bill is in the hands of a conference committee between the House and the Senate. TU is leading efforts to get sportsmen to convince members of the committee to strip the measure from the final bill that must be approved by the full House and Senate (to view a letter to Members of Congress from hunting and angling groups, please go to www.tu.org).
Public lands contain well more than 50 percent of the nation’s blue-ribbon trout streams and are strongholds for imperiled trout and salmon in the western United States. More than 80 percent of the most critical habitat for elk is found on lands managed by the Forest Service and the BLM, alone.
O’Donnell said, “As more private lands are subdivided or posted “no trespassing,” public lands provide the last habitat for fish and wildlife, and access for sportsmen who wish to fish, hunt, and camp with their families and friends. That habitat and access could be compromised as a result of the mining sections of the House Reconciliation Bill.”
Trout Unlimited is North America’s leading coldwater fisheries conservation organization, with more than 150,000 members dedicated to the protection and restoration of trout and salmon fisheries and their watersheds.