BONO TESTIFIES IN FAVOR OF PROTECTING CONSERVATION SYSTEM
Congresswoman Mary Bono (R-CA), Co-Chair of the National Landscape Conservation System Congressional Caucus, today called upon a House panel to make the Conservation System a permanent part of the West's legacy of land protection.
Bono testified on behalf of H.R. 2016, the National Landscape Conservation System Protection Act, at the House Subcommittee on National Parks, Forests and Public Lands. The bill would provide a congressional stamp of approval for the Bureau of Land Management's Conservation System, administratively designated in 2000.
"Our nation's most valued open spaces must be recognized and protected," said Bono. "This legislation presents our opportunity to safeguard America's heritage and our open spaces for future generations."
H.R. 2016 would formally recognize the Conservation System, the crown jewels of the Bureau of Land Management's lands and waters. Bono is an original co-sponsor of the bill, introduced by National Parks, Forests and Public Lands Subcommittee Chair Raúl Grijalva. In April, Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee Chairman Jeff Bingaman (D-NM) introduced companion bill S. 1139, which passed out of committee in May.
"Each unit in the National Landscape Conservation System was created pursuant to various statutory authorities, and informally organized into a System," said Bono. "It's time to establish the System statutorily. Every other major federal land system in the country is congressionally authorized. I support BLM's interest in having its own System get the same recognition."
According to the BLM, the Conservation System, only 10 percent of the BLM's lands, accounts for a full one-third of the visitation.
"These lands represent an incredible diversity of cultural, scientific, recreational, and conservation values," said Bono. "They are more than the sum of their parts and should be recognized as such."
The Conservation System is a network of the last places to experience the history and wild beauty of the American West, with 26 million acres that include National Monuments, wilderness areas, scenic rivers, trails and historic sites that provide a uniquely American experience.
Unlike the National Parks and the National Wildlife Refuges, there currently is no guarantee that the Conservation System will be around five years from now.
Co-sponsors of H.R. 2016 include Reps. Shelley Berkley (D-NV), Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), Lois Capps (D-CA), Lloyd Doggett (D-TX), Wayne Gilchrest (R-MD), Maurice Hinchey (D-NY), Rush Holt, (D-NJ), Jay Inslee (D-WA), Mark Kirk (R-IL), Barbara Lee (D-CA), Carolyn Maloney (D-NY), Jim McDermott (D-WA), Frank Pallone (D-NJ), Rep. Janice Schakowsky (D-IL), Mark Udall (D-CO), Tom Udall (D-NM), Henry Waxman (D-CA), and Heather Wilson (R-NM).
Last year, Bono, along with co-chairs Grijalva, Rep. Jim Moran (D-VA), and Rep. Rick Renzi (R-AZ), established the House National Landscape Conservation System Caucus. The Caucus has led efforts in the House to raise awareness about and protect the Conservation System.
The Conservation System is comprised of more than 800 units, including 15 National Monuments, 13 National Conservation Areas, Steens Mountain Cooperative Management Protection Area in Oregon, Headwaters Forest Reserve in northern California, 36 Wild and Scenic Rivers, 148 Wilderness Areas, 4,264 miles of National Scenic and Historic Trails, and more than 600 Wilderness Study Areas.
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