Bono Creates National Landscape Conservation System Caucus
Congresswoman Mary Bono (R-CA), Congressmen Raúl Grijalva (D-AZ), Rick Renzi (R-AZ) and James Moran (D-VA) have joined together to create the National Landscape Conservation System (NLCS) Caucus. The caucus will work to identify concrete steps to protect the unique cultural, historic, and natural resources of Bureau of Land Management's (BLM) conservation system.
"America is rich in natural beauty," said Congresswoman Mary Bono. "We owe it to ourselves and future generations to make sure that our natural landscape is protected. The Bureau of Land Management's National Landscape Conservation System faces a number of challenges, including a lack of funding and a lack of institutional support for the System's conservation mandate. This caucus will work to ensure the agency has the resources and leadership needed to protect our public lands."
"This caucus will help us protect all the resources of Bureau of Land Management's Conservation System," said Congressman Grijalva. "It is our duty to enhance and protect the 26 million acres of public lands. It is also important to preserve our most precious resources that provide local communities with recreational and economic opportunities."
"Our NLCS lands are American treasures" said Congressman Moran. "Special attention needs to be paid to their management and preservation in Congress. This new caucus will be focused on the best way to go about building the institutional support necessary for federal conservation."
"The four co-chairs bring an extraordinary diversity of perspectives and expertise to the caucus, and make us optimistic that that BLM's best lands will begin to receive the attention they deserve," said Wendy VanAsselt, who directs The Wilderness Society's National Landscape Conservation System Campaign. "The caucus is a clear indication that the public concern over how these lands are managed is being heard in Washington."
Bono, Grijalva, Renzi and Moran have been working with a variety of groups including American Hiking Society, American Rivers, National Wildlife Federation, the National Trust for Historic Preservation and The Wilderness Society to examine how to best enhance and protect NLCS' system of 26 million acres of public lands.
BLM's Conservation System faces a lack of funding for resource protection and land acquisition and struggles with problems of vandalism and illegal uses. A May 2006 study by the National Trust for Historic Preservation found that the BLM's hundreds of thousands of cultural sitesfrom entire ancient villages to historic spots traversed by pioneer wagonsare in real danger of being destroyed because of a lack of funding to study sites and lack of rangers to minimize illegal uses.
Caucus members will explore steps Congress and the Department of the Interior can take to protect and enhance the BLM's Conservation System for all Americans.