House Bills Anti-Wilderness Land Grab as National Security Measure
Bill part of anti-wilderness package would allow logging in California roadless areas, clearcutting of old growth forests in Alaska and virtually rent-free grazing on public lands
The U.S. House of Representatives is expected to consider a slew of bills early next week, including H.R. 1505, the “National Security and Federal Lands Protection Act.” It 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.
H.R. 1505 is part of an anti-wilderness package expected to hit the House floor next week that includes, among other destructive bills:
• 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.
• 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, allowing the corporation to clearcut some of the last remaining old growth 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 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.
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.
“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.”
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 36 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.
This bill is an extreme and radical measure, and 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.
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 has been introduced as an amendment to the Farm Bill.
The bills profiled in Wilderness Under Siege and the measures expected to hit the house floor next week are out of touch with the American people’s conservation values.
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Photo of Arctic grayling (left) and Dolly Varden trout (right). Alyssa Murdoch / Lilian Tran / Nunavik Research Centre and Tracey Loewen / Fisheries and Oceans Canada<p>Yet, not all fish species fared equally well. Ecologically unique northern species — those that have evolved in colder, more nutrient-poor environments, such as Arctic grayling and Dolly Varden trout — were showing declines with warming.</p>
Fish Strandings and Buried Eggs<p>Recent news headlines run the gamut for Pacific salmon — from their increased escapades <a href="https://nunatsiaq.com/stories/article/more-pacific-salmon-showing-up-in-western-arctic-waters/" target="_blank">into the Arctic</a> to <a href="https://www.juneauempire.com/news/warm-waters-across-alaska-cause-salmon-die-offs/" target="_blank">massive pre-spawning die-offs</a> in central Alaska. Similarly, results from our study revealed different outcomes for fish depending on local climatic conditions, including Pacific salmon.</p><p>We found that warmer spring and fall temperatures may be helping juvenile salmon by providing a longer and more plentiful growing season, and by supporting early egg development in northern regions that were previously too cold for survival.</p><p>In contrast, salmon declined in regions that were experiencing wetter fall conditions, pointing to an increased risk of flooding and sedimentation that could bury or dislodge incubating eggs.</p>
Headwaters of the Wind River within the largely intact Peel River watershed in northern Canada. Don Reid / Wildlife Conservation Society Canada / Author provided<p>Interestingly, we found that certain climatic combinations, such as warmer summer water temperatures with decreased summer rainfall, were important in determining where Pacific salmon could survive. Summer warming in drier watersheds led to declines, suggesting that lowered streamflows may have increased the risk of fish becoming stranded in subpar habitats that were too warm and crowded.</p>
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“You’ve Been Exposed”<p>After the case interview, contact tracers will get to work calling the folks who may have been exposed to the coronavirus by the person who tested positive.</p><p>"We give them recommendations about quarantining or isolating, getting tested, and what to do if they become sick. If they're not already sick, we still want them to self-quarantine so that they don't spread the disease to anyone else if they were to become sick," said Labus.</p><p>Generally, the contact tracer won't ask for additional contacts unless they happen to call someone who is sick or has a confirmed case of the virus. They will help ensure the contact has the resources they need to isolate themselves, if necessary. The contact tracer may continue to stay in touch with that person over the next 14 days.</p><p>"We follow the percentage of people that were contacts, then converted into being actual cases of the virus. It's an important marker to help us understand what kind of transmission happens in our community and how to control the virus," said Gullett.</p>
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