Last week I asked if anyone knew of any NGO’s focused on access… Here’s an access bill in the House. I don’t know if there are folks against public access to public lands.. or whether this is one of the elusive THINGS EVERYONE AGREES ON?
Here’s a link to the story and below is an excerpt:
A New Mexico Democrat this week introduced a bill to improve access to public lands for hunters, anglers and other recreation seekers.
Rep. Martin Heinrich’s H.R. 6086 would require federal agencies to identify lands currently lacking public access routes for recreation and to craft plans to improve access to lands valuable to sportsmen.
The legislation, which was assigned to the Natural Resources Committee, targets lands available to the public that are essentially inaccessible, since there is no trail or road leading to them.
In New Mexico, such areas include the Sabinoso Wilderness in San Miguel County and the Alamo Hueco Mountains wilderness study area, said Heinrich spokesman John Blair.
The bill also would require federal land managers to provide a public database of access routes to their lands, a provision designed to inform the state and local governments that manage those roads.
Lastly, the bill includes language that would require that 1.5 percent of the money from the Land and Water Conservation Fund be used to acquire easements and rights of way from willing sellers to improve access to public lands. That would equal nearly $5 million at current funding levels.
Ben Lamb, a hunter from Montana, said the bill is a win for sportsmen.
“It directs the Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management to do what many outdoorsmen have been asking those agencies to do for years: Inventory public lands, figure out which areas are inaccessible, and decide what resources are needed to change that,” Lamb said in an op-ed this week in Outdoor Life.
The bill is among a handful of measures floated in Congress recently to strengthen sportsmen’s access and curb federal agencies’ ability to restrict hunting and angling activities.
Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont.) has at least twice proposed language similar to Heinrich’s to devote LWCF funding to promote access, most recently in an amendment to the Senate farm bill that did not receive a vote. Congress has so far struggled to pass any significant sportsmen’s bills.
“Easements, small land acquisitions and inventorying public land shouldn’t be controversial issues, but it is an election year,” Lamb wrote. “Who knows how this will shake out.”
I wonder if the partisan pitfall could be avoided somehow? And useful work could be done?
The Center for American Progress and the Sierra Club have released a series of three short video documentaries, “Public Lands, Private Profits,” outlining threats to public lands. Today, we’ll highlight “Too Special to Drill,” which looks at how proposed natural gas drilling would impact the pristine Noble Basin section of the Bridger-Teton National Forest.
I’ve noticed many stories about this but here’s a link to one and an excerpt below. It’s nice when we can see the world getting better..
In the meantime, Obama has instructed the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, the Interior Department and the Agriculture Department — parent agency of the Forest Service — to “ensure temporary federal firefighters who are bravely battling fires have access to the health insurance they deserve,” the official said.
The official added that the president acted after the issue was brought to his attention following his trip late last month to Colorado Springs, Colorado, where Obama toured damage caused by that state’s most destructive wildfire on record.
The so-called Waldo Canyon, which broke out June 23, killed two people and gutted nearly 350 homes and forced the evacuation of some 35,000 people. Ranked as one of worst conflagrations to date during the 2012 wildfire season nationwide, it was finally declared 100 percent contained late Tuesday.
At that time, the White House said that more than 8,800 firefighters were at work against dozens of wild-land blazes burning across the country, most of them in the West.
Some 15,000 firefighters are on the federal government payroll, but 8,000 of them are classified as temporary, seasonal employees and thus ineligible for federal benefits such as health insurance, according to Rachel LaBruyere, an organizer of the petition drive on the nonpartisan social action website Change.org.
“It’s a huge deal, and there’s going to be a lot of really, really happy firefighters out there tonight,” said John Lauer, 27, seasonal member of a “hot-shot” crew from Custer, South Dakota, who initiated the petition drive seeking health benefits. “I’m sure they’re all very thankful for what the president’s done.”