LONG-AWAITED AND MUCH-NEEDED, THE JOHN D. DINGELL JR. CONSERVATION, MANAGEMENT AND RECREATION ACT PROMISES HABITAT AND ACCESS
By Bethany Erb of the Pheasants Forever Government Affairs Team
After decades of hard-work, focus, and endurance from our conservation community and dedicated bipartisan legislators and their staff, President Trump signed into law a large package of pro-public lands bills known as The John D. Dingell Jr. Conservation, Management, and Recreation Act.
This public lands package, signed last week, was comprised up of more than 100 individual bills including two of Pheasants Forever’s top legislative priorities: reauthorizing the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF), and Partners for Fish and Wildlife.
LWCF, established in 1964, has protected land in every state and supported over 41,000 state and local park projects, and includes wide provisions for hunter and angler access. LWCF is funded by offshore oil and gas revenues.
Partners for Fish and Wildlife helps Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever deliver mission by providing financial assistance for us as well as other private and public entities to work with landowners to create wildlife habitat on private lands.
A partial list of other bills and actions within the public lands package includes:
* Federal Closing Date for Hunting of Ducks, Mergansers, and Coots.
* Confirming that public lands are "open unless closed" to hunting and fishing. This assures that The Department of Interior will expand hunting and fishing opportunities on dozens of wildlife refuges and thousands more acres of other public lands.
* Every Kid Outdoors Act.
* Allowing sportsmen and women to carry unarmed bows across National Park Service land.
* Identifying new opportunities for recreation, hunting, and fishing on Federal lands.
* Strengthening Coastal Communities Act.
* Alaska Native Veterans Land Allotment Equity Act.
* World War II Pacific Sites Establishment Act.
Now that the public lands package has become law, Pheasants Forever’s next priority is to ensure adequate funding for key programs, such as LWCF, during the Congressional budget cycle.
While the public lands package represents significant movement forward on numerous conservation priorities, the president’s budget (also released last week) was troubling news as it does not provide adequate funding for LWCF or most of our Farm Bill conservation programs. This spring we will work with congressional appropriators as well as agency officials to ensure robust funding for conservation.
Back to work, and more on that in our next update …