The U.S. House of Representatives on Tuesday passed what fishing and outdoor recreation advocates see as a historic conservation and public lands package.
The bipartisan Natural Resources Management Act, passed by the Senate earlier this month, designates more than 1 million acres of wilderness for environmental protection and permanently reauthorizes a federal program to pay for conservation measures, according to a report in The New York Times.
It also protects almost 2.4 million acres of public lands from mining operations, preventing any new activities in the regions north of Yellowstone National Park and outside North Cascades National Park, according to a report by Newsweek.
“Our minds are reeling,” Outdoor Recreation Roundtable executive director Jessica Wahl told Trade Only Today. “[The] passage of the public lands package was a huge win for outdoor recreation.”
Of note to boating and fishing advocates is the permanent reauthorizations of the Land and Water Conservation Fund, the Yellowstone Gateway Protection Act, the Every Kid Outdoors Act, the Sportsmen’s Access to Federal Land subtitle and the 21st Century Conservation Service Corps Act.
“It’s exciting to see Congress demonstrate this clear recognition of the importance of our nation’s public lands and outdoor recreation,” said Mike Leonard, American Sportfishing Association government affairs vice president, in a statement. “Passage of the Natural Resources Management Act will benefit the recreational fishing industry and anyone who values our nation’s public lands for many years to come.”
On Wednesday, during an event hosted by the ORR — of which ASA and the National Marine Manufacturers Association are a part — more than 100 recreation industry leaders applauded the act’s passage.
Reps. Don Beyer, D-Va.; Steve Stivers, R-Ohio; Garret Graves, R-La.; Peter Welch, D-Vt.; Suzanne Bonamici, D-Ore.; Bruce Westerman, R-Ark.; and John Curtis, R-Utah, addressed the group and were thanked for their support of outdoor recreation.
“The House’s unanimous approval of the National Resources Management Act — following the Senate’s overwhelming vote earlier this month — is the latest reminder that conserving our public lands and waterways is an issue that unites us,” NMMA president Thom Dammrich said in a statement.
ORR and its members also celebrated the Bureau of Economic Analysis’ Outdoor Recreation Satellite Account securing permanent funding, and that the first federal government study of the outdoor recreation economy at the state level had been appropriated earlier this month.