NATIONAL LANDSCAPE CONSERVATION SYSTEM ACT -- (House of Representatives - April 09, 2008)
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Mr. KIND. Mr. Chairman, I rise today in strong support of the amendment by my colleagues, Mr. ALTMIRE and Mr. CARNEY, which will offer some needed comfort to those of us in the sportsmen's community who seek to protect what access remains to cherished hunting and fishing opportunities on public lands. With the adoption of this amendment, I would urge all of my colleagues on the Congressional Sportsmen's Caucus to vote for the underlying bill as well.
Without a doubt, the 26 million acres that constitute the National Landscape Conservation system's more than 850 individual units represent some of the very best hunting and fishing opportunities available today. These lands harbor bighorn sheep, elk, pronghorn, mule and white-tailed deer, caribou, salmon, chinook, sockeye, steelhead, redband trout, and so many more game and non-game species, not to mention spectacular landscapes unparalelled in the rest of the bureau of land management. These are the very best places the BLM has to offer, and they are very deserving of the additional recognition and institutional support H.R. 2016 will provide.
Opponents of H.R. 2016, the National Landscape Conservation System Act, have claimed that it will create a new Federal bureaucracy that will usurp private land rights, divert Federal dollars, and dilute public access. None of these claims is true. By simply codifying in law a designation that has existed through administrative action for the last eight years, H.R. 2016 will change nothing in how the BLM or Department of the Interior manages these lands. What it will do is raise the profile of these national treasures both within the department and with the public so that they are known by all as the gems of the BLM's stewardship mandate rather than mere afterthoughts subject to executive fiat.
While the underlying bill already contains a savings clause stating that all existing laws and regulations governing these lands will continue to be exercised and enforced as before, the Altmire-Carney Amendment very simply adds an explicit reminder that hunting and fishing will continue to go hand in hand with conservation. as sportsmen and women provide the primary source of funds for state and local conservation budgets, It is appropriate that hunting and fishing rights be retained in the National Landscape Conservation system.
As co-chair of the Congressional Sportsmen's Caucus and a member of the Natural Resources Committee, I wish to thank my friend and subcommittee chair RAÚL GRIJALVA for introducing this bill, chairman RAHALL for his invaluable support, and Representatives Altmire and Carney for offering this important amendment. I urge my colleagues to support this amendment and the underlying measure.
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