Interior Secretary’s Emphasis on Responsible Public Lands Management Draws Praise from Sportsmen
TRCP commends Jewell’s focus on fully funding the Land and Water Conservation Fund, protecting special places and upholding the nation’s outdoors-reliant economy
Sportsmen’s priorities for the management of America’s public lands and waters figured prominently in remarks made today by Interior Secretary Sally Jewell, with the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership applauding Jewell’s calls to fully fund the Land and Water Conservation Fund, protect the nation’s special places, and uphold economic sectors dependent on federal public lands.
“Sportsmen appreciate Secretary Jewell’s call to fully fund the Land and Water Conservation Fund, which, along with other key conservation programs, is critically important to maintaining our nation’s hunting and fishing traditions,” said Whit Fosburgh, TRCP president and CEO. “Our ability to continue enjoying both our publicly owned natural resources and our outdoors way of life – not to mention the recreation-based economy that relies on them – hinges on these programs being strongly funded.”
In her speech, issued this afternoon at an event at the National Press Club, Jewell noted that the president’s budget proposal called for full mandatory funding of LWCF by 2015. The LWCF provides funds to acquire land and water for recreation and habitat conservation, as well as conserve working farms and ranches.
The TRCP also commended Jewell’s recognition of the existence of “special places” that need protection. In terms of land management, Jewell acknowledged that inherent tensions exist in balancing development with conservation. She said that the answer is development in the right ways and the right places and noted that some places are “too special to develop,” all points made consistently by the TRCP and many of its partners.
Joel Webster, director of the TRCP Center for Western Lands, agreed with Jewell’s statement that “demands are greater than ever” on our public lands.
“Sportsmen know special places first hand, and we are engaged in BLM land use planning processes across the West to help conserve some of America’s last, best, publicly accessible hunting and fishing areas,” said Webster. “As the agency continues its work to balance a range of activities on these lands, including energy production as well as recreation, meaningful conservation of special places – where the best and highest uses are fish and wildlife habitat and dispersed recreation such as hunting and fishing – must take center stage. To that end, we strongly encourage the Department of the Interior to commit to conserving intact and undeveloped BLM lands across the West – lands that provide key habitats and high quality sporting opportunities.”
During her speech, the secretary made her first secretarial order, which calls for a department-wide mitigation strategy. Jewell said that order addresses the Interior Department’s effort to encourage balanced development and ensure landscape-level planning.
“Sportsmen are encouraged by Secretary Jewell’s interest in promoting landscape-level planning and mitigation when it comes to the special places that are most important to our hunting and angling traditions,” said Ed Arnett, director of the TRCP Center for Responsible Energy Development. “The fact remains that solid, strategic planning on a macro level will resolve many of the conflicts and problems we’ve been seeing over the energy planning and development process. BLM and DOI simply need to commit to doing it.”
An overarching theme of the secretary’s remarks was the importance of public lands as the foundation of the outdoor recreation economy, echoing statements made by many sportsmen’s and outdoor groups, including the TRCP.
“We were thrilled to hear the secretary reiterate the importance of America’s $646 billion outdoor recreation economy, of which hunting and angling form a substantial portion,” stated Fosburgh. “Hers is a welcome voice in the refrain of leaders who understand the correlation between economic growth in this sector and strong funding for conservation and public lands management. We urge Congress to heed Secretary Jewell’s remarks in its budget negotiations and ensure that these sectors are able to support communities across the nation as our economic recovery continues.”