Today, the House Committee on Natural Resources passed three pieces of legislation authored by Congressman Doc Hastings (WA-04) that would advance public access and fishing opportunities in Central Washington. The three bipartisan bills, pertaining to Rattlesnake Mountain, Stehekin Road, and North Cascades fish stocking, passed the Full Committee by unanimous consent. Hastings, who chairs the Committee, reintroduced the three bills last month for the 113th Congress. All three of Hastings' bills passed the House of Representatives with broad, bipartisan support in the 112th Congress (2011-2012), but the Senate failed to take a vote on the bills.
"I am pleased that the Natural Resources Committee today approved three bills, which are important to Central Washington. These bills would provide greater recreational access to the public, increase tourism, and create new fishing opportunities in Washington. All three of these bills passed the House of Representatives with broad, bipartisan support last Congress. I look forward to working with my colleagues to ensure they will pass again with the same level of support, and I sincerely hope the Senate will approve these bipartisan initiatives before the end of the year," said Congressman Hastings following the Committee vote.
The Rattlesnake Mountain Public Access Act (H.R. 1157), would allow public access to the summit of Rattlesnake Mountain located on the Hanford Reach National Monument in Benton County, Washington. Currently, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Interior Department agency responsible for managing the Hanford Reach National Monument, despite completing a management plan years ago, has refused even limited public access to the summit of Rattlesnake Mountain. Hastings' legislation would require the Secretary of the Interior to provide reasonable public access to the summit of Rattlesnake Mountain in the Hanford Reach National Monument for educational, recreational, historical, scientific, cultural, and other purposes.
H.R. 1156 renews efforts that would allow the National Park Service to relocate and rebuild the Upper Stehekin Valley Road in the North Cascades National Park. Over time, floods and the changing path of the Stehekin River has critically damaged significant sections of Stehekin Road. The Road occupies a narrow corridor within the borders of the Stephen Mather Wilderness Area. Hastings' bill would adjust the wilderness boundary for the sole purpose of rebuilding the closed section of road away from the Stehekin River, provided there is no net loss of wilderness acreage.
The North Cascades National Park Service Complex Fish Stocking Act (H.R. 1158), would allow the practice of fish stocking in North Cascades lakes to continue, a tradition that has been in place for more than a century, and which long predates the establishment of the National Parks Service. Without this legislative authority, the National Park Service has stopped and will not continue fish stocking. Hastings' legislation would permit the stocking of up to 42 lakes in the North Cascades National Park Complex that have historically been stocked with fish and is home to many recreational activities that draws Park visitors from around the state, region, and beyond.
In addition to the 112th Congress, Hastings' Upper Stehekin Valley Road Access bill and the North Cascades National Park Service Complex Fish Stocking Act passed the House of Representatives in the 111th Congress (2009-2010), but were not acted upon by the Senate.