Natural Resources

Committee on Natural Resources

Rob Bishop

Bishop, Gosar Request Mineral Withdrawal Data from Zinke

2018/10/17

Today, House Natural Resources Committee Chairman Rob Bishop (R-Utah) and Energy and Mineral Resources Subcommittee Chairman Paul Gosar (R-Ariz.) sent a letter to Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke regarding the number and total acreage of mineral withdrawals, for both minerals and oil and gas.

“Last year, the Committee on Natural Resources (“Committee”) sent a letter to your office and Secretary Perdue addressing the negative impact of unwarranted, unilateral mineral withdrawals made in the final days of the previous Administration.  Some of these withdrawals remain in effect, such as the withdrawal area in Southwestern Oregon, which halts mineral entry in over 100,000 acres of public land for 20 years. Left in place, withdrawals such as these will harm local communities, job growth in the region, and even reduce funding for public education in the surrounding area. As Chairman Bishop noted in his letter, administrative mineral withdrawals remain a serious concern as they “[harm] our nation’s economic and strategic potential…

“Arbitrarily limiting access to minerals also poses security concerns. From nuclear control rods to advanced electronics, domestically produced metals and minerals provide invaluable contributions to the national security interests of the United States. The U.S. is now reliant on foreign sources for our supply of many of these materials – many of which are found within our borders – and this problem is only getting worse…

“To better understand the extent of the remaining mineral withdrawals, the Committee requests the Bureau of Land Management to produce an inventory of all administrative  withdrawals currently in effect, regarding both nonfuel mining and oil and natural gas development.”

Click here to read the full letter.

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Bishop, Westerman Escalate Request for Additional Information on World Resources Institute's Ties to China

2018/10/17

Today, House Natural Resources Committee Chairman Rob Bishop (R-Utah) and Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee Chairman Bruce Westerman (R-Ark.) sent a letter to World Resources Institute (WRI) President Andrew Steer, renewing their request for information regarding the WRI’s relationship with the Chinese government. This letter follows up on the Committee’s Sept. 5 letter as part of an ongoing investigation.

“In a September 22, 2018 letter to the Committee, WRI denied that its relationship with the Chinese government impacts its political activities within the United States … WRI also asserted that it ‘does not act on behalf of…any foreign governments or principals…

“Communications from WRI to senior U.S. government officials, obtained by the Committee, however, indicate WRI actions on behalf of the Ministry of Ecology and Environment of the People’s Republic of China (MEE)…

“One email of concern dated April 15, 2015, was sent by the then-Global Director of WRI’s Climate Program to U.S. State Department officials, [which stated,] ‘We have been approached by the NCSC in China to pursue a dialogue (potentially track 2) that would bring together top experts from the US and China’…

“It is difficult to reconcile WRI’s representations to the Committee that it ‘unambiguously has not and does not act on behalf of or in the interests of any foreign principal,’ with the April 15, 2015 email and other documents. Similarly, WRI’s refusal to provide documents and information responsive to the Committee’s inquiries raise additional concerns regarding WRI’s candor’…

“The Committee remains concerned that WRI’s relationship with the Chinese government has influenced its political activities related to natural resources and environmental policies in the United States.”

Click here to read the full letter.

Click here to view the emails. 

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Opinion: Restoring the Land and Water Conservation Fund

2018/10/09

By: Chairman Rob Bishop

The Daily Caller

Politicians love creating new parks. It’s a cheap way (using someone else’s money) to increase name recognition and bona fides ahead of an election.

Unfortunately, maintaining our parks doesn’t have the same appeal. Why would a politician fix a leaky roof or repave a road when he or she could create a new park? I’ve never seen a federal candidate run for office on the campaign theme, “Vote for me, I fixed the park sewer system!”

Good stewardship isn’t flashy, but it’s essential if we are truly committed to our public lands. With the recent expiration of the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF), we now have an opportunity to restore stewardship to our land management policies.   

In 1965, Congress created the LWCF. Using revenue from energy development from federal resources, the LWCF finances conservation and outdoor recreation programs. Its genius is that it generates revenue from one natural resource to conserve another.

The LWCF has played a vital role in creating recreational opportunities for Americans. That’s the main reason why the program should be reauthorized. However, Congress must also ensure the program is fulfilling its intended purpose.  

Under the original law, the largest share of LWCF funds was dedicated to a “stateside” program designed to help local communities fund recreation projects. Forty percent of the LWCF was to be allotted for “federal” purposes to purchase privately owned parcels of land inside existing federal boundaries.

Unfortunately, since 1965, the LWCF has drifted from its noble vision. Despite a ballooning deferred maintenance backlog, the LWCF has become overly focused on new land acquisition. At a time when states face unmet recreational needs of more than $18 billion, the “stateside” program has sunk to as low as 12 percent of total LWCF funding.

Today, federal lands, including national parks, are buckling under $20 billion in deferred maintenance projects. Yes, those pesky sewer systems, crumbling roads and bridges, and leaky roofs need to be fixed. This impacts visitor access, enjoyment, and safety on public lands. If we don’t pay to maintain our existing federal land infrastructure now, we’ll pay even more to replace it later.

In 1965, the National Park Service (NPS) administered 203 units on less than 30 million acres. Today, NPS manages 417 units and over 80 million acres. The units have doubled and acreage almost tripled since the creation of LWCF. Since 2005 alone, more than a dozen parks were added to the NPS, in addition to land acquisitions through LWCF.

Our nation’s public land philosophy is based on the twin pillars of conservation and access. We want to preserve and maintain natural resources, while at the same time ensure meaningful use and enjoyment of those lands. These twin principles prompted LWCF’s creation. These same principles should guide its reauthorization. Ranking Member Raúl Grijalva and I reached a bipartisan agreement on two pieces of legislation – H.R. 6510 and H.R. 502 – that, together, achieve this vision.

H.R. 6510, the Restore our Public Lands Act, provides dedicated investments to address the backlog of the National Park Service. H.R. 502 reforms and reauthorizes LWCF, ensuring stateside grants receive a minimum of 40 percent. It also ensures that no less than $20 million of total LWCF funds be used to improve access to existing federal lands for hunters, fishermen and other outdoor recreationalists. Both bills passed the House Committee on Natural Resources with bipartisan support in September.

Together, these reforms ensure recreational access for local communities is at the heart of the LWCF and reassert conservation and responsible use as our public land management priorities. Supporting both these bills will help us solve this problem.

Rob Bishop is the chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee.

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Bishop Statement on LWCF Deadline

2018/10/01

House Natural Resources Committee Chairman Rob Bishop (R-Utah) issued the following statement regarding the Sept. 30 expiration of the Land and Water Conservation Fund’s (LWCF) authorization.

“LWCF can and will be reauthorized. The best path forward is to include it in a broader legislative lands package that addresses the National Park maintenance backlog and other lands related measures.” – Chairman Rob Bishop

Background:

Chairman Bishop believes that Congress must meaningfully invest in the maintenance of existing federally-owned lands as a prerequisite for investing in new land acquisition. Bishop and Ranking Member Raúl Grijalva recently came to a bipartisan agreement on two pieces of legislation – H.R. 6510 and H.R. 502 – that, if paired together, achieve this objective. H.R. 6510, the Restore our Public Lands Act, which provides dedicated investments to address the deferred maintenance backlog of the National Park Service and other agencies, and H.R. 502, which reforms and permanently reauthorizes the LWCF, passed Committee with bipartisan support on Sept. 13, 2018.

H.R. 502, as amended Sept. 13, begins realigning the LWCF to ensure that recreational access for local communities remains the underlying purpose of the fund, as originally intended. The bill includes a permanent reauthorization of the LWCF, subject to appropriations, a 40/40 split between state and federal purposes, and guaranteed funding of no less than $20 million annually to improve sportsmen’s access to federal lands.

 

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ICYMI: Mandatory LWCF Spending Would 'Blow' Up Bill — Bishop

2018/09/27


By Kellie Lunney

E&E News

If the Senate moves to require mandatory annual spending for the Land and Water Conservation Fund, it could tank the carefully crafted bipartisan House reauthorization deal, Utah Republican Rep. Rob Bishop said.

"That would probably blow it up in the House if you did that," the Natural Resources Committee chairman told reporters yesterday.

The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee expects to mark up a bill Tuesday to reauthorize LWCF, which expires Sunday. But that legislation could look different from the measure pending in the House.

One proposal under consideration in the Senate, S. 569 from Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), would permanently authorize and fully fund the program. It has 47 co-sponsors, including six Republicans.

Energy and Natural Resources Chairwoman Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) yesterday did not say which bill the panel would take up or whether it would contain language permanently authorizing and fully funding LWCF.

"We'll see," she said. "It's not one [a bill] that I'm putting forward." When asked whether it could be the Cantwell bill, Murkowski said, "Quite possibly."

Bishop worked with his panel's top Democrat, Raúl Grijalva of Arizona, to advance a measure, H.R. 502, through committee last week that would permanently reauthorize LWCF, over the objections of several Republicans.

"Philosophically, I don't think anything should be permanently authorized either," Bishop said. "But I'm willing to do it if we can get the other reforms that I want through there."

The Bishop-Grijalva measure does not contain language mandating full funding. House leadership has not yet scheduled a floor vote on the bill.

H.R. 502 would allocate 40 percent of money to the fund's stateside program, 40 percent to the federal government and 20 percent for other necessary activities that could include deferred maintenance needs, for example.

Another provision would set aside 3 percent for recreation access, requiring the Interior secretary to put together a list of priority projects.

LWCF uses revenue from offshore oil and gas drilling primarily to preserve and maintain the nation's parks, forests, recreation areas and cultural sites.

It's a favorite of many members of Congress because it's a program that doesn't use taxpayer dollars and is popular with constituents across the country.

The authorized funding level is $900 million, but it's hardly ever been funded at that level; its annual appropriations in recent years have typically been about half that.

Requiring Congress to fully fund the program at the authorized level each year would be "justifiably hard to do," Bishop said.

"There is no offset for it, which is another reason why I always put percentages in my bills, not dollar numbers," the Republican said. "If you put a dollar number in there that's higher than anything we already have, the CBO [Congressional Budget Office] plays games with it. Percentages, then it's subject to appropriations."

The Utah Republican said he envisions Congress getting LWCF done this year, most likely in the lame-duck session and as part of a broader bipartisan public lands package.

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Committee Advances Slate of ESA, Federal Lands Bills

2018/09/27

Today, the House Committee on Natural Resources passed ten bills, H.R. 237 (U.S. Rep. Don Young, R-Alaska), H.R. 3608 (U.S. Rep. Tom McClintock, R-Calif.), H.R. 6108 (U.S. Rep. Jody Hice, R-Ga.), H.R. 6345 (U.S. Rep. Stevan Pearce, R-N.M.) H.R. 6346 (U.S. Rep. Mike Johnson, R-La.), H.R. 6355 (U.S. Rep. Bruce Westerman, R-Ark.), H.R. 6434 (U.S. Rep. Frank Pallone Jr., D-N.J.), H. Res. 792 (U.S. Rep. Jose Serrano, D-N.Y.), and S. 607 (U.S. Sen. Tom Udall, D-N.M.).

“These bills honor our heritage, lighten regulatory burdens for communities, increase transparency, and strengthen relationships between states and the federal government. Ultimately, these bills aim to bolster our country’s natural resources. I’d like to thank the Western Caucus and my colleagues for helping to move these bills forward,” Chairman Rob Bishop (R-Utah) said.  

H.R. 237, reauthorizes the Integrated Coastal and Ocean Observation System Act of 2009.

H.R. 3608, amends the Endangered Species Act of 1973 to require publication on the Internet of the basis for determinations that species are endangered species or threatened species.

H.R. 6108, provides for partnerships among State and local governments, regional entities, and the private sector to preserve, conserve, and enhance the visitor experience at nationally significant battlefields of the American Revolution, War of 1812, and Civil War.

H.R. 6345, provides for greater county and State consultation with regard to petitions under the Endangered Species Act of 1973.

H.R. 6346, amends the Endangered Species Act of 1973 to provide for consideration of the totality of conservation measures in determining the impact of proposed Federal agency action. 

H.R. 6355, amends the Endangered Species Act of 1973 to define petition backlogs and provide expedited means for discharging petitions during such a backlog. 

H.R. 6365, establishes the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo Land Grant-Merced Claims Commission and other Federal policies for the restoration of land for hardships resulting from the incomplete and inequitable implementation of the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, and affirms Land Grant-Merced property rights protected by the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo.

H.R. 6434, amends section 7 of Public Law 100-515 (16 U.S.C. 1244 note) to promote continued use of the James J. Howard Marine Sciences Laboratory at Gateway National Recreation Area by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

H. Res. 792, urges the Secretary of the Interior to recognize the historical significance of Roberto Clemente's place of death near Piñones in Loiza, Puerto Rico, by adding it to the National Register of Historic Places.

S. 607, establishes a business incubators program within the Department of the Interior to promote economic development in Indian reservation communities. 

 

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Rep. Curtis’ Historic, Bipartisan Emery County Bill Passes Committee

2018/09/26

Today, the House Committee on Natural Resources passed H.R. 5727, Representative John Curtis’ bipartisan Emery County Public Land Management Act of 2018. This historic conservation bill, introduced with Senator Orrin Hatch, protects over one million acres in Utah’s Emery County. The product of two decades of local outreach and public meetings, this bill establishes a gold standard for future efforts to resolve long lasting problems facing our public lands.

Congressman Curtis frequently talks about the dangers of a “winner take all philosophy” surrounding the public lands debate. He hopes that this thorough process of bringing together diverse stakeholders and amending the bill to bring coalitions together is a model to resolve long standing and difficult challenges facing our public land management.

WATCH CURTIS AT TODAY’S MARKUP

Throughout the legislative process for this bill, Congressman Curtis has made an effort to give everyone a seat at the table. Today, he welcomed an amendment from Chairman Bishop, in addition to his own amendment that resolves various stakeholder concerns with the original version. Congressman Curtis’ amendment replaces the National Conservation Area with a National Recreation Area in a stakeholder compromise, adjusts the NRA Advisory Committee membership, replaces multiple sections with standard management language, adjusts various boundaries for manageability, incorporates DOI technical assistance as appropriate, in addition to other changes.  

“This bill is a testament to how local input can help Washington solve problems. H.R.5727 brings resolution to local land access issues, improves our conservation efforts and enhances educational opportunities for kids. I want to thank Rep. Curtis for his hard work on this legislation, and encourage the majority leader to move quickly to take up this bill and pass it.”Natural Resources Committee Chairman Rob Bishop (R-Utah)

“This bill is a win for everybody. It balances the needs of funding for Utah’s schools and conserving some of our nation’s most pristine land and resources. I am excited to champion this bill that helps add new resources and economic development opportunities to Emery County, and brings together conservation organizations, motorized and non-motorized recreation, sportsmen, local officials and governments, the State of Utah, the Congressional delegation, and many others. This is truly a local solution championed by the locals closest to the land.” – Rep. John Curtis (R-Utah)

Statements of Support

Emery County Commission

After decades of work on this legislation by the PLC we feel that the amazing resources in our County will be available for future generations as a result of this legislation.  We are grateful that Senator Hatch and Representative Curtis and their staffs have helped with the appropriate language for this legislation. - Rod Player, Chairman, Emery County Public Lands Council

We are pursuing congressional action to assure regulatory certainty for the outstanding natural resources in Emery County. This bill is inclusive of all stakeholders and their interests. It makes sense. It is a better way to make natural resource management decisions. We all will benefit. - Lynn Sitterud, Chairman, Emery County Commission

Outdoor Alliance [LETTER]

Outdoor Alliance is a coalition of nine member-based organizations representing the human powered outdoor recreation community. The coalition includes Access Fund, American Canoe Association, American Whitewater, International Mountain Bicycling Association, Winter Wildlands Alliance, The Mountaineers, the American Alpine Club, the Mazamas, and Colorado Mountain Club and represents the interests of the millions of Americans who climb, paddle, mountain bike, and backcountry ski and snowshoe on our nation’s public lands, waters, and snowscapes.
Our community greatly appreciates the strong conservation provisions contained in the bill—including nearly 530,000 acres of Wilderness, more than 336,000 acres of National Conservation Area, and Wild and Scenic protection for 63 miles of the Green River—for area which contain superlative outdoor recreation opportunities.


John Gilroy, Director of U.S. Public Lands, The Pew Charitable Trusts [
LETTER]

Beyond its conservation gains, this bill also offers a rare opportunity to move beyond some of the animosity surrounding public lands in Utah. Pew is hopeful that this bill will serve as a model for future land designation bills in the state and beyond. It is locally driven, negotiated in good faith, and drafted using language that reflects other successful conservation legislation, such as a 2009 bill that protected hundreds of thousands of acres of public land in Washington County, Utah. Approval and passage of this bill would protect the integrity of the National Wilderness Preservation System while demonstrating that stakeholders with a variety of divergent interests can agree that there is long-term value in protecting the natural, cultural, and historic resources of our federally-managed public lands.

Nathan Fey, Director of Colorado River Stewardship Program, American Whitewater

 On behalf of American Whitewater’s members and partners, I want to thank Sen Hatch and Rep. Curtis for introducing legislation to protect public lands and rivers in Emery County, Utah. The Emery County Public Land Management Act of 2018 reflects the collaborative approach taken in its development and protects nearly 1 Million acres of public lands and 98 miles of rivers in the county for their conservation and outdoor recreation values. Adding the Green River to the National Wild & Scenic Rivers System, and creating new Wilderness Areas for the San Rafael River and Muddy Creek, protect these high-value landscapes from any water development schemes and will help ensure that these waterways can be enjoyed in the future, just as they are today. We look forward to continuing to work with Senator Hatch and Representative Curtis to identify shared conservation and recreation priorities, and toward further improvements in the bill.

Governor Gary Herbert, Governor of Utah 

I appreciate these efforts working with Emery County Commissioners and other leaders and stakeholders to develop the Emery County Public Land Management Act of 2018. It’s an important bill and is a great example of what can happen when members of a community set aside differences and work to find solutions that will benefit the county, its residents, and the state of Utah.

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Committee Advances Land Management, Recreation Bills

2018/09/26

Today, the House Committee on Natural Resources passed 10 bills, H.R. 5727 (U.S. Rep. John Curtis, R-Utah), H.R. 6118, (U.S. Rep. David Rouzer, R-N.C.), H.R. 6666 (U.S. Rep. Daniel Donovan, Jr., R-N.Y.), H.R. 6682 (U.S. Rep. Scott Tipton, R-Colo.), H.R. 4644 (U.S. Rep. Greg Gianforte, R-Mont.), H.R. 5636 (U.S. Rep. J. French Hill, R-Ark.), H.R. 6784 (U.S. Rep. Sean Duffy, R-Wis.), H.R. 6255 (U.S. Rep. Darren Soto, D-Fla.), H.R. 6064 (U.S. Rep. Thomas Suozzi, D-N.Y.), and H.R. 5706 (U.S. Rep. Colleen Hanabusa, D-Hawaii).  

H.R. 5727, the Emery County Public Land Management Act of 2018, establishes the San Rafael Swell Western Heritage and Historic Mining National Conservation Area in the State of Utah, designated wilderness areas in the State, and provides for certain land conveyances.

Passed by Voice Vote

H.R. 6118, directs the Secretary of the Interior to annually designate at least one city in the United States as an "American World War II Heritage City.”

Passed by Unanimous Consent

H.R. 6666, authorizes the Secretary of the Interior to grant to States and local governments easements and rights-of-way over Federal land within Gateway National Recreation Area for construction, operation, and maintenance of projects for control and prevention of flooding and shoreline erosion.

Passed by Unanimous Consent

H.R. 6682, the Protection and Transparency for Adjacent Landowners Act, amends the Federal Land Policy and Management Act of 1976 to improve the transparency and oversight of land conveyances involving disposal or acquisition of National Forest System lands or Bureau of Land Management public lands, and provides protections and certainty for private landowners related to resurveying such public lands.

Passed by Voice Vote

H.R. 4644, the Yellowstone Gateway Protection Act, withdraws certain National Forest System land in the Emigrant Crevice area located in the Custer Gallatin National Forest, Park County, Montana, from the mining and mineral leasing laws of the United States.

Passed by Roll Call Vote, 28-4

H.R. 5636, the Flatside Wilderness Enhancement Act, designates additions to the Flatside Wilderness on the Ouachita National Forest. 

Passed by Unanimous Consent

H.R. 6784, the Manage our Wolves Act, provides for removal of the gray wolf in the contiguous 48 States from the List of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife published under the Endangered Species Act of 1973. 

Passed by Roll Call Vote, 19-15

H.R. 6255, amends title 18, United States Code, and establishes measures to combat invasive lionfish.

Passed by Unanimous Consent

H.R. 6064, renames the Oyster Bay National Wildlife Refuge as the Congressman Lester Wolff National Wildlife Refuge.

Passed by Unanimous Consent

H.R. 5706, the World War II Pacific Sites Establishment Act, establishes the Pearl Harbor National Memorial in the State of Hawai'i and the Honouliuli National Historic Site in the State of Hawai'i. 

Passed by Unanimous Consent

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Bishop Statement on House Passage of Bills Designating Historic Sites, Promoting Good Governance

2018/09/25

Today, the House passed H.R. 6013 (U.S. Rep. Rob Bishop, R-Utah), H.R. 5585 (U.S. Rep. William Keating, D-Mass.), H.R. 6299 (U.S. Rep. Mark Amodei, R-Nev.), H.R. 6599 (U.S. Rep. Stephen Knight, R-Calif.), H.R. 6687 (U.S. Rep. Jared Huffman, D-Calif.), H.R. 46 (U.S. Rep. John Katko, R-N.Y.), H. Res. 418 (U.S. Rep. Sean Duffy, R-Wis.), and H. Res. 460 (U.S. Rep. Sean Duffy, R-Wis.). Chairman Rob Bishop issued the following statement:

“These bills recognize places of historic and cultural significance and streamline bureaucratic processes. I thank all those who shepherded these bills through the House. Given the large number of bills in our purview in need of action by one chamber or the other, a broader discussion with the Senate on an omnibus lands package becomes increasingly necessary.”

H.R. 6013, amends the Migratory Bird Treaty Act to establish January 31 of each year as the Federal closing date for duck hunting season, and establishes special duck hunting days for youths, veterans, and active military personnel.

H.R. 5585, extends the authorization for the Cape Cod National Seashore Advisory Commission.

H.R. 6299, modifies the process of the Secretary of the Interior for examining certain mining claims on Federal lands in Storey County, Nevada, facilitates certain pinyon-juniper-related projects in Lincoln County, Nevada, modifies the boundaries of certain wilderness areas in the State of Nevada, and fully implements the White Pine County Conservation, Recreation, and Development Act.

H.R. 6599, modifies the application of temporary limited appointment regulations to the National Park Service.

H.R. 6687, directs the Secretary of the Interior to manage the Point Reyes National Seashore in the State of California consistent with Congress’ longstanding intent to maintain working dairies and ranches on agricultural property as part of the seashore’s unique historic, cultural, scenic and natural values.

H.R. 46, authorizes the Secretary of the Interior to conduct a special resource study of Fort Ontario in the State of New York.

H. Res. 418, urges the Secretary of the Interior to recognize the cultural significance of Rib Mountain by adding it to the National Register of Historic Places.

H. Res. 460, requests the Secretary of the Interior to recognize the rich history of the logging industry and the importance of lumberjack sports by adding the Lumberjack Bowl to the National Register of Historic Places.

Stakeholder Support for H.R. 6013:

“Thank you for introducing the bill and advancing the bill through the House of Representatives. The partnership between the Committee and Senator Hyde-Smith will preserve and enhance this hunting heritage as well as give future generations the opportunity to know and love wildlife and the wild places they call home.”Fred Ferguson, vice president of government relations, Vista Outdoor

“Hunting, and especially hunting waterfowl, is a heritage I want to protect - but it is also bigger than that. You protect what you love and know. I love and know how important wetlands are to the overall well-being of wildlife and our water. I want to ensure that future generations have the opportunity to understand wetlands and all they give us in life.”Will Primos, founder, Primos

“We support states having the flexibility to end the waterfowl season on January 31st or earlier if they desire, and we support states having the flexibility to designate special hunting opportunities for our military and veterans. These two aspects of HR 6013 will help continue the rich heritage of waterfowl hunting and conservation of our treasured wetland resources for years to come.”Dale Hall, CEO, Ducks Unlimited Inc.

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ICYMI: Interior Secretary Zinke To Visit Zion National Park Monday

2018/09/20


By Amy Joi O’Donoghue

Deseret News

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke will tour Utah’s iconic Zion National Park on Monday and get a close-up look at some of the $65 million in backlogged maintenance needs.

His visit includes a roundtable discussion with Rep. Rob Bishop, R-Utah, who is sponsoring a bipartisan measure to fund park maintenance using some of the royalties from energy development on public lands.

“Money that is generated on public lands should be used to maintain public lands,” Bishop said.

The Restore Our Parks and Public Lands Act, endorsed last week in the House Committee on Natural Resources that Bishop chairs, enjoys broad bipartisan support with 169 co-sponsors.

The bill is co-led by the committee’s ranking member, Rep. Raul Grijalva, D-Ariz.

The National Park System is reeling under a staggering $11.6 billion in deferred maintenance needs. In Utah, national parks and monuments’ maintenance needs are $266 million, with roads, bridges and restroom facilities in need of repair or replacement.

“It is very easy to create a park and put land in the government state, but another thing to come up with a way to actually maintain it,” Bishop said.

The legislation aims to take the excess revenue generated from all forms of energy development that is not already allocated to other programs.

Bishop said the annual allocation would be capped at $1.3 billion over a five-year period, satisfying concerns by Democrats that the measure will not incentivize energy development.

“It won’t solve every issue right away, but we will have some money coming in at a steady pace,” he said.

Bishop estimates if the program had been in place this year, $6 billion could have been directed to take care of maintenance needs at the nation’s parks and monuments.

The money also will help fund needed maintenance throughout the nation’s wildlife refuges and address backlogs within the Bureau of Land Management, he added.

Those excess royalties would be harnessed from both onshore and offshore energy development of fossil fuels, as well as renewable energy like wind, solar and geothermal.

As it stands now, excess money is deposited into the general fund for other appropriations, Bishop said.

Multiple groups have come out in favor of the proposal, including the National Parks Conservation Association, the Pew Charitable Trusts, the America Outdoors Association and the RV Industry Association.

Frank Hugelmeyer, president of the RV group, said the $50 billion RV industry is growing at record levels, but overnight stays at National Park Service campgrounds are decreasing dramatically.

Those visits were at 4.5 million in the 1980s and have dwindled to 2.5 million in 2017, he said.

Bishop said Monday's roundtable discussion on the bill, which includes park officials and community representatives, will occur at the park itself and also involve a tour of Utah’s most-visited national park.

Reps. John Curtis and Chris Stewart, R-Utah, will also be there.

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Contact Information

1324 Longworth HOB
Washington, DC 20515
Phone 202-225-2761
Fax 202-225-5929
naturalresources.house.gov


Membership

Jack Bergman

MICHIGAN's 1st DISTRICT

Rob Bishop

UTAH's 1st DISTRICT

Liz Cheney

WYOMING

Paul Cook

CALIFORNIA's 8th DISTRICT

John Curtis

UTAH's 3rd DISTRICT

Jeff Denham

CALIFORNIA's 10th DISTRICT

Louie Gohmert

TEXAS' 1st DISTRICT

Paul Gosar

ARIZONA's 4th DISTRICT

Garret Graves

LOUISIANA's 6th DISTRICT

Jody Hice

GEORGIA's 10th DISTRICT

Mike Johnson

LOUISIANA's 4th DISTRICT

Raul Labrador

IDAHO's 1st DISTRICT

Doug LaMalfa

CALIFORNIA's 1st DISTRICT

Doug Lamborn

COLORADO's 5th DISTRICT

Tom McClintock

CALIFORNIA's 4th DISTRICT

Steve Pearce

NEW MEXICO's 2nd DISTRICT

Amata Radewagen

AMERICAN SAMOA

Glenn Thompson

PENNSYLVANIA's 5th DISTRICT

Scott Tipton

COLORADO's 3rd DISTRICT

Daniel Webster

FLORIDA's 10th DISTRICT

Bruce Westerman

ARKANSAS' 4th DISTRICT

Rob Wittman

VIRGINIA's 1st DISTRICT

Donald Young

ALASKA

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