Of 439 million acres managed by the U.S. Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management, 99 percent are open to hunting and fishing. In addition, the National Wildlife Refuge System supports approximately 2.7 million hunting days and nearly 8 million fishing days each year. These wild spaces belong to all of us as Americans to enjoy in perpetuity…but are threatened in many areas by a lack of maintenance and the funding for proper scientific management of the habitats they include. The National Wildlife Federation (NWF) and Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation (CSF) are calling upon citizens and Congress to support the Great American Outdoors Act, which was introduced in the Senate this past March, just before the COVID-19 pandemic shut down much of the country. The Act’s inclusion of funding to address the maintenance backlog on these lands, say the NWF and CSF, is critical for America’s hunters and anglers.
The bill, which is the most important conservation legislation to receive an up-or-down vote in decades, would expand access for hunters and anglers, invest in critical wildlife habitat and public lands, and strengthen the nation’s outdoor heritage for generations to come. Additionally, the funding it includes would create hundreds of thousands of jobs while supporting proper scientific management of these areas’ native populations of flora and fauna.
“The Great American Outdoors Act is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” said Jeff Crane, president of the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation. “This legislation not only takes historic steps forward to promote conservation and increase access for America’s sportsmen and women, but will also serve as a multiplier by creating near-term job creation at a much needed time, and it is critically important that our leaders show their commitment to the nation by being present when the bill is considered in the Senate. The time is now to pass the bill on the Senate floor.”
We’re happy to report that, in this terrible time of political divisiveness, both sides of the political aisle have come together to support this legislation. The National Wildlife Federation and Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation were instrumental in working with U.S. Senators Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), Steve Daines (R-Mont.), Cory Gardner (R-Colo.), Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), and Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) to ensure that the bill included funding for all public lands, including wildlife refuges, national forests, and Bureau of Land Management lands.