PRESS RELEASE – Attack On National Conservation Lands Threatens Resources, Livelihoods

2016 House Natural Resources Committee Budget would eliminate the National Conservation Lands

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact:  Brian O’Donnell, (970) 903-0276

 

WASHINGTON, DC (March 5, 2015) – Today the House Natural Resources Committee will hold a budget oversight hearing on the Department of the Interior’s Proposed Fiscal Year 2016 Budget. The Committee, chaired by Rep. Rob Bishop (R-UT), has announced intentions to eliminate the budget for the National Conservation Lands—over 30 million acres of our nation’s most prized public lands, including more than 40 national monuments and national conservation areas. Gutting the budget for the National Conservation Lands threatens access to public lands that drive the nation’s outdoor economy and provide a livelihood for many Westerners.

While the president’s budget recognizes these lands are underfunded and proposes an increase, the House Committee on Natural Resources “recommends eliminating” the Office of the National Conservation Lands. (Source: Committee on Natural Resources View and Estimates for Fiscal Year 2016.) Gutting the budget for the National Conservation Lands would put local economies at risk, threaten nationally significant natural and cultural resources, and deny Americans access to their public lands.

Dozens of national monuments and national conservation areas across the West—places like Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area, just outside of Las Vegas—would have to shut their doors.

“Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area annually hosts over one million visitors from around the world,” said Pat Williams, President of Friends of Red Rock Canyon, a non-profit group that works to preserve, protect and enrich the Canyon. “Defunding the National Conservation Lands would senselessly devastate tourism, not to mention access for Clark County schoolchildren and rest of the Las Vegas community who consider the canyon to be their haven.”

The National Conservation Lands—the nation’s newest collection of protected public lands and waters—stand alongside the National Park System and the National Wildlife Refuge System as guardians of our nation’s heritage and drivers of the country’s $646 billion outdoor recreation economy. They provide some of America’s best recreational opportunities, including exceptional hunting opportunities for sportsmen. Guides and outfitters of all kinds depend on access to these lands for their economic livelihood, and they contribute to the overall social and economic health of our nation’s small western communities.

“As an outfitter, my business depends on access to public lands and waterways,” said Tom Kleinschnitz, president/owner of Adventure Bound USA, a company that guides multi-day raft trips on several rivers, including the wildly popular Ruby-Horsethief stretch of the Colorado River in McInnis Canyons National Conservation Area. “The National Conservation Lands provide some of the best recreation in the nation, and defunding these public lands would negatively impact my business and the outdoor industry as a whole.”

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