HSC Applauds Passing of Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act
The U.S. House of Representatives voted to pass the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (H.R. 3684). This bill will help provide over $40 billion in funding to support fish and wildlife habitat conservation projects, enhance public access to our federal public lands, and promote job creation. Included within the Act is the reauthorization of the Sport Fish Restoration and Boating Trust Fund, ensuring that more than $650 million annually is provided to state fish and wildlife agencies for local fish habitat conservation as well as boating and fishing access, through excise taxes generated by anglers and boaters; establishing a grant program to reduce wildlife-vehicle collisions and to enhance habitat connectivity, authorizing $350 million over 5 years to help reduce wildlife-vehicle collisions and help restore habitat connectivity for many species; provide increased financial resources to help the U.S. Forest Service reduce a 1.3 million acre planting backlog by removing the cap on the Reforestation Trust Fund; increased access to federal lands, authorizing $2.1 billion over 5 years to improve infrastructure owned and maintained by the National Park Service, Fish and Wildlife Service, Forest Service, the Bureau of Land Management, and the Army Corps of Engineers; and the restoration of abandoned mine lands, providing over $11 billion to reclaim mines with the ultimate goal of restoring habitat for upland birds, elk, deer, and other important wildlife species.
Opposition to the Petition Submitted by the Center for Biological Diversity and the Natural Resources Defense Council to Ban Trade in Wild Mammals and Birds
Houston Safari Club joined other conservation organizations in opposing an anti-hunting petition filed by the Center for Biological Diversity and the Natural Resources Defense Council. An excerpt from this opposition: we strongly oppose the petition submitted by the Center for Biological Diversity (CBD) and the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) to ban trade in wild mammals and birds. The petition is intentionally void of the many conservation and economic benefits that international hunting provides, and it predatorily capitalizes on the COVID-19 pandemic to misrepresent the sporting community and its stakeholders. Especially concerning is the fact that the petition is blind to decades of conservation efforts funded by legal, regulated sport hunting that have led to the survival and sustainability of countless wildlife species – safeguarding biodiversity and providing associated ecosystem services in the process. Additionally, the authority of our nation’s state fish and wildlife agencies would be undermined should this petition be implemented, preventing efforts that have historically saved species and habitats from eradication. Considering the numerous positive benefits that result from the import and export of wild animals and their parts and products because of hunting, it becomes more disturbing that the petitioners would seek to irreparably harm a valuable method of both domestic and international conservation. For these reasons, we urge the Department of the Interior (DOI) to reject the CBD/NRDC petition.
Resilient Federal Forests Act (RFFA)
HSC, in alignment with several other conservation organizations, endorses the U.S. Forest Service’s effort to purchase the Korea Alaska Development Company’s coal title in the Bering River drainage of the Copper River Delta. Included in this request are the following: keeping a portion of Exxon Valdez funding available for habitat conservation in the 2010 Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement; conducting a “link to injury” determination in 2016 about Bering River’s fish, wildlife, and human services being fully eligible for Exxon Valdez funds; expanding the Exxon Valdez spill region to include the entire Copper River Delta (2020) including Bering River; and support for the Land & Water Conservation Fund being used to help complete the purchase of the Bering River coal field for inclusion in the Chugach National Forest.
In alignment with several conservation organizations, HSC requested that Congress take immediate action to address harmful and unnecessary delays in federal forest management activities caused by the Cottonwood Environmental Law Center v. United States Forest Service (Cottonwood) decision. Since 2015 when the Ninth Circuit Court issued the Cottonwood ruling, the Forest Service (USFS) has been required to reinitiate consultation with the Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), Bureau of Land Management (BLM), and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration on Land Management and Forest Management Plans at the programmatic level when new Endangered Species Act (ESA) information became known. This has blocked and slowed many essential USFS forest management, wildlife habitat enhancement, and wildfire fuel reduction projects.
Martha Williams, Director of the Fish and Wildlife Service
HSC was included in a letter of support for Martha Williams to serve as Director of the Fish and Wildlife Service. Prior to her nomination, Williams worked for the Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks, serving as Director from 2017 to 2020. In this position, she demonstrated a strong commitment to solving complex wildlife problems while also balancing the management of Montana’s extensive public lands and its diverse users. As a former director, Williams understands the important roles of state fish and wildlife agencies. Additionally, Williams served at the Department of the Interior as Deputy Solicitor for Parks and Wildlife between 2011 and 2013, providing legal counsel to the Park Service and the Fish and Wildlife Service. Her experiences in state and federal government position her well to deal with the complex challenges of fisheries and wildlife management and conservation that we are currently facing. Williams has a proven track record of working across the aisle to achieve robust conservation outcomes. Further, she has always sought the input of hunter and angler-conservationists and utilized their guidance to inform important policy decisions. For these reasons, we urge your committee to advance Martha Williams’ confirmation, so that the Senate may quickly act to confirm her for this critical position.