March 25, 2009
Dave Glenn, (307) 332-6700, ext. 16
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Conservation System earns permanent protection
Sportsmen celebrate codified protection of high-value fish and game habitat
WASHINGTON, D.C.—The U.S. House of Representatives on Wednesday overwhelmingly passed the Omnibus Public Land Management Act of 2009, the bill that contains the National Landscape Conservation System Permanence Act that protects over 26 million acres of public land in perpetuity. The final vote in favor of the measure was 285-140.
“This is great news for sportsmen, particularly here in the West, where the Conservation System protects some of the best fishing and hunting territory left in the United States,” said Dave Glenn, backcountry lands director for Trout Unlimited. “This means that places like Colorado’s Gunnison Gorge and Oregon’s Steens Mountain region will be intact for future generations of sportsmen and women. Thanks to this bill, our hunting and fishing heritage remains alive and well.”
The National Landscape Conservation System consists of a vast network of public lands managed by the Bureau of Land Management. The system was created in the late 1990s, but it only enjoyed administrative protection. Thanks to Congress, that protection is now permanent, and that gives sportsmen all over the West guaranteed access to some of the last, best fish and game habitat left in the country.
“Congress did right by sportsmen today, and we’re grateful for that,” said Jim Bartschi, president of Scott Fly Rods Inc., of Montrose, Colo., which is located near the Gunnison Gorge. “The Gorge is one of the best wild trout fisheries in the West, and we’re fortunate to have it right out the back door. To know that it will always be there is gratifying, not just as a businessman, but as someone who likes to get off the beaten path and experience what the West is really all about.”
The omnibus act took a long, winding route through Congress. It was first considered—and passed—by the House in the fall of 2008, but things stalled in the Senate. In January, the bill passed the Senate, but failed to get the needed two-thirds majority in the House two weeks ago, when it was considered under suspension of rules. It went back to the Senate, where it was included as an amendment to a bill that had already passed the House—it passed the Senate last week with flying colors. Today’s vote in the House sends the bill to President Obama—once it gets the president’s signature, it will become the law of the land.
“As sportsmen, we’ve found our voice when it comes to conservation,” Glenn said. “We have credibility across the political spectrum, and being able to help protect landscapes as irreplaceable as the Conservation System is exactly how we should be using that clout.”
Trout Unlimited is a private, non-profit organization with more than 140,000 members dedicated to conserving, protecting, and restoring North America’s trout and salmon fisheries and their watersheds.