Conservation bill earns House approval, clearing way for proposal to be signed or vetoed by President.
WASHINGTON, D.C.—A landmark outdoor conservation bill is at the White House awaiting approval or rejection, as the House of Representatives joined the U.S. Senate in approving the Natural Resources Management Act, or NRMA, by a 363-63 vote. Senators approved the outdoor conservation bill about two weeks earlier by a 92-8 vote. The only question remaining is whether Pres. Donald J. Trump will sign the bill or veto it and send it back to Congress.
Acres of public lands and hundreds of miles of rivers would be protected by the NRMA, should Trump sign the bill into law. The NRMA, which gained House approval ahead of Michael Cohen’s public testimony and Trump’s meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in Vietnam, also reauthorizes the Land and Water Conservation Fund. Congress allowed the fund to expire last year after maintaining it for 50 years.
There are several fishing-themed topics within the bill, such as protecting public access for anglers and permitting takings of certain fish species.
“Congress declares that it is the policy of the United States that Federal departments and agencies, in accordance with the missions of the departments and agencies … [shall] facilitate the expansion and enhancement of hunting, fishing, and recreational shooting opportunities on Federal land, in consultation with the Wildlife and Hunting Heritage Conservation Council, the Sport Fishing and Boating Partnership Council, state and tribal fish and wildlife agencies, and the public,” language of the NRMA stated.
The bill would also call for the conservation and enhancement of “aquatic systems and the management of game species and the habitat of those species on federal land, including through hunting and fishing, in a manner that respects … state management authority over wildlife resources and private property rights.”
Closures of public lands for fishing and other outdoor activities were also outlined in the legislation.
Some of the other elements of the bill include:
- Permanently prohibiting mining in 30,000 acres at Yellowstone National Park
- Expanding national parks at Death Valley and Joshua Tree
- Establishing a memorial at the Saint Francis Dam site near Santa Clarita
- Designating certain lands in the California Desert Conservation Area to be administered by the Bureau of Land Management.
The NRMA also renamed nearly 100,000 acres of U.S. Forest Service land in Oregon after Frank Moore and his wife, Jeanne. Frank Moore, according to the legislation, was a World War II veteran who stormed Normandy who also enjoyed flyfishing as a personal hobby.
“Frank Moore returned home after the war, started a family, and pursued his passion of fishing on the winding rivers in Oregon,” language in NRMA stated. “As the proprietor of the Steamboat Inn along the North Umpqua River in Oregon for nearly 20 years, Frank Moore, along with his wife Jeanne, shared his love of fishing, the flowing river, and the great outdoors, with visitors from all over the United States and the world.
“Frank Moore has spent most of his life fishing the vast rivers of Oregon, during which time he has contributed significantly to efforts to conserve fish habitats and protect river health, including serving on the State of Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission,” the legislation’s language continued. “Frank Moore has been recognized for his conservation work with the National Wildlife Federation Conservationist of the Year award, the Wild Steelhead Coalition Conservation Award, and his 2010 induction into the Fresh Water Fishing Hall of Fame.”
Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, authored and introduced the bill on the Senate floor.