Sportsmen Conservationists Cheer Americas Wildlife Heritage Act


June 10, 2009

Steve Williams, Wildlife Management Institute

Gary Taylor, Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies

Steve Moyer, Trout Unlimited

Sportsmen Conservationists Cheer Americas Wildlife Heritage Act

WASHINGTONRepresentatives Ron Kind (D-WI) and Walter Jones (R-NC) introduced a bill in the House of Representatives today that will help improve populations of fish and wildlife on Americas National Forests and BLM lands.

The Americas Wildlife Heritage Act is a bill that is good for Americas sportsmen and women because it will compel the federal land management agencies to do a much better job of prioritizing the needs of fish and wildlife populations in their planning processes, said Steve Williams, President of the Wildlife Management Institute. Fish and wildlife have taken a back seat to oil and gas leasing and other uses of federal lands for too long, and this bill will level the playing field as our nations multiple use laws have always intended, said Williams.

The Americas Wildlife Heritage Act would end years of litigation and uncertainty surrounding the fish and wildlife planning protocols for federal lands by providing the Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) with clear directives and science-based tools to sustain and monitor healthy populations of fish and wildlife and their lands. The bill further would require improved coordination between federal and state agencies to achieve their mutual objectives.

In addition to creating standards for establishing fish and wildlife population objectives to which BLM and FS land management plans are to aspire, the bill significantly directs and facilitates that these population objectives be achieved based on an evaluation and monitoring program that is designed and implemented in cooperation with the state fish and wildlife agencies, said Gary Taylor, Legislative Director of the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies. States have principal authorities and responsibilities for managing fish and wildlife within their borders, including on most federal lands, and it is vitally important that the states and federal land managers work closely together to enhance the sustainability of fish, wildlife and their habitats on these important multiple-use public lands, concluded Taylor.

Forest Service and BLM lands hold some of the best remaining for big game and sport fish species, provide habitat for countless other species, both imperiled and common, and protect some 3,400 public water supplies. But they are also under increasing pressure oil and gas planned development and the serious changes wrought by global warming.

Hunters and anglers are do-ers, and we are sometimes skeptical of planning and monitoring, said Steve Moyer, Vice President of Government Affairs at Trout Unlimited. But we know that with the many forces of habitat destruction on our public lands, especially the adverse affects of climate change, our federal land managers must plan and monitor better if we are to enjoy hunting and fishing in coming generations, said Moyer.