Quantcast

Assault on Public Lands Passes House

Wilderness Society

Anti-wilderness package also allows logging in California roadless areas, clear-cutting of old growth forests in Alaska and virtually rent-free grazing on public lands

On June 19, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a package of anti-wilderness bills (H.R. 2578), including H.R. 1505—National Security and Federal Lands Protection Act.

H.R. 1505 would hand over “operational control” of federal public lands within 100 miles of the Canadian and Mexican borders to the U.S. border patrol, and could open national parks, wildlife refuges, wilderness and other public lands to development, such as construction and road building. Rep. Raul Grijalva’s (D, AZ-7) amendment to strike H.R. 1505 from the package was unfortunately defeated. This package of bills now awaits movement in the Senate.

Prior to the House vote, a coalition of Hispanic and immigration reform advocates, Native American tribal organizations, sportsmen, businesses and conservation groups, sent a letter to members of Congress voicing their opposition and asking members to vote against the bill.

“H.R. 1505 is an overreach that would adversely affect everyone who enjoys America’s public lands,” said David Moulton, senior legislative director at The Wilderness Society. “The bill would allow road building, construction and development on lands that are loved for hunting, fishing, hiking and other recreational activities. This vote was not in the best interest of the people who enjoy the land for its natural beauty.”

H.R. 1505 is part of an anti-wilderness package that includes, among other destructive bills:

The Sealaska bill would give away tens of thousands of acres of high-value public land from the Tongass National Forest to the Sealaska Corporation. This would allow the corporation to clear-cut valuable forest land and take ownership of the best recreation sites at the heads of bays or mouths of salmon streams. This land giveaway would effectively prevent a long-planned transition out of old growth logging on the national forest, and privatize prime recreation spots that are currently open to the American public for fishing, hunting, and recreation and are relied upon by many small tourism, outfitter and fisheries businesses.

• Title XI, the “Grazing Improvement Act,” is a virtual giveaway of more than 247 million acres of Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and National Forest rangelands to the approximately 27,000 livestock producers who have grazing privileges on the lands managed by these two agencies. The bill would change the term of federal livestock grazing leases from the current ten years to 20 years.  No other government entity in the U.S. issues 20-year livestock grazing permits. In addition, Title XI reduces the level of environmental scrutiny of livestock grazing practices on BLM and National Forest lands by allowing these agencies to exempt the issuance of grazing permits from National Environmental Policy Act review.

The Quincy Library Group bill would take an unsuccessful and outmoded forest management pilot program and expand it across much of northern California, while simultaneously authorizing logging in roadless areas, spotted owl habitat, salmon habitat and other areas of critical environmental importance and mandating minimum annual timber cuts. 

Opposed by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), H.R. 1505 could endanger personal freedoms by closing without notice our lands to hunting, fishing, tourism and recreation, all multi-million dollar industries that support small businesses. DHS Secretary Napolitano testified before Congress in opposition to H.R. 1505, saying it "is unnecessary, and it’s bad policy." DHS benefits from their close collaboration with law enforcement counterparts in the land management agencies. In addition to threatening lands, the bill threatens this collaboration.

H.R. 1505 is an extreme and radical measure that would put at risk 49 million acres of public lands in 17 states, sweeping away 16 bedrock environmental and land management laws in Joshua Tree National Park, Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, Acadia National Park and any other protected land that sits within 100 miles of the border.

The Wilderness Society recently updated the report, Wilderness Under Siege, to reflect the movement of these and other bills and what they would mean to America’s lands, waters and natural legacy. Also mentioned in the report is H.R. 4089—a Trojan horse bill that includes a sneak attack on wilderness. H.R. 4089 recently passed the House, and awaits passage in the Senate. 

The bills profiled in Wilderness Under Siege are out of touch with the American people’s conservation values.

Visit EcoWatch's BIODIVERSITY page for more related news on this topic.

 

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Two silver-backed chevrotain caught on camera trap. The species has only recently been rediscovered after being last seen in 1990. GWC / Mongabay

By Jeremy Hance

VIETNAM, July 2019 – I'm chasing a ghost, I think not for the first time, as night falls and I gather up my gear in a hotel in a village in southern Vietnam. I pack my camera, a bottle of water, and a poncho; outside the window I can see a light rain.

Read More Show Less
Flooding in New Orleans from Hurricane Katrina on Sept. 11, 2005. NOAA Photo Library / Lieut. Commander Mark Moran

The most destructive hurricanes are three times more frequent than they were a century ago, new research has found, and this can be "unequivocally" linked to the climate crisis.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored

By George Citroner

The Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion and the World Health Organization currently recommend either 150 minutes of moderate intensity exercise (walking, gardening, doing household chores) or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic exercise (running, cycling, swimming) every week.

But there's little research looking at the benefits, if any, of exercising less than the 75 minute minimum.

Read More Show Less
Mary Daly, president of the San Francisco Federal Reserve Bank, poses for a photograph. Nick Otto / Washington Post / Getty Images

It seems the reality of the climate crisis is too much for the Federal Reserve to ignore anymore.

Read More Show Less

Passengers trying to reach Berlin's Tegel Airport on Sunday were hit with delays after police blocked roads and enacted tighter security controls in response to a climate protest.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
A military police officer in Charlotte, North Carolina, pets Rosco, a post-traumatic stress disorder companion animal certified to accompany him, on Jan. 11, 2014. North Carolina National Guard

For 21 years, Doug Distaso served his country in the United States Air Force.

He commanded joint aviation, maintenance, and support personnel globally and served as a primary legislative affairs lead for two U.S. Special Operations Command leaders.

But after an Air Force plane accident left him with a traumatic brain injury, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and chronic pain, Distaso was placed on more than a dozen prescription medications by doctors at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).

Read More Show Less
(L) Selma Three Stone Engagement Ring. (R) The Greener Diamond Farm Project. MiaDonna

By Bailey Hopp

If you had to choose a diamond for your engagement ring from below or above the ground, which would you pick … and why would you pick it? This is the main question consumers are facing when picking out their diamond engagement ring today. With a dramatic increase in demand for conflict-free lab-grown diamonds, the diamond industry is shifting right before our eyes.

Read More Show Less
Preliminary tests of the bubble barrier have shown it to be capable of ushering 80 percent of the canal's plastic waste to its banks. The Great Bubble Barrier / YouTube screenshot

The scourge of plastic waste that washes up on once-pristine beaches and finds its way into the middle of the ocean often starts on land, is dumped in rivers and canals, and gets carried out to sea. At the current rate, marine plastic is predicted to outweigh all the fish in the seas by 2050, according to Silicon Canals.

Read More Show Less