Ruffed Grouse Society Can’t Support “America’s Wildlife Heritage Act” As Written
Well intended legislation will do more harm than good.
Washington, DC – -(AmmoLand.com)- Last week, Representative Ron Kind (D-WI) introduced legislation to the 111th Congress in Washington, that would sustain the diverse fish, wildlife, and plants that depend on our nation’s federal public lands. But as well intended as bill HR2807 is, it may well do otherwise.
Since its formation in 1961 the Ruffed Grouse Society has always supported legislation that would benefit fish and wildlife, and the restoration of habitat needed for their survival; but after reading the language in the “America’s Wildlife Heritage Act”, we cannot, in good conscience, support this bill as written.
The bill would require that all activities on the 449 million acres administered by the US Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management work toward enhancing the survival and health of all native plants and animals that exist on these federal lands. Although this is indeed a laudable goal, as with most things, the devil is in the details; and the detail of the bill language that would mandate that these federal agencies survey literally hundreds of species of plants and animals prior to implementing any activity makes this otherwise well-intentioned legislation unworkable.
According to Dan Dessecker, Director of Conservation Policy for the Ruffed Grouse Society, “While we support efforts to enhance coordination between federal land management agencies and state fish and wildlife agencies to sustain wildlife populations, it is simply not possible to meet the species-by-species monitoring requirement imposed by this legislation – the federal agencies affected have neither the expertise nor the funds to do so,” Dessecker said.
Others are of the same conviction and until they have done what they aren’t capable of doing, much needed management for all wildlife on public lands could be halted with one frivolous lawsuit after another.
HR 2807 requires that the federal agencies monitor all wildlife identified by the state fish and wildlife agencies as “species of greatest conservation need”, as well as various classifications of plants. In Wisconsin alone, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources has identified over 650 such species of wildlife. And although not all of these species are found on the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest in the northern portion of the state, a substantial number undoubtedly are. Obviously, when one includes plants, the list becomes even longer.
“The hundreds of millions of dollars required to count every beetle, butterfly and bird of concern across the nation could be far better spent on managing the forest to provide habitats for the many species of wildlife that are becoming more rare every day; or perhaps to protect imperiled forests, rangelands and rural communities from catastrophic wildfires,” said RGS, Executive Director and CEO Mike Zagata.
The Ruffed Grouse Society will continue to work with Representative Kind, other members of Congress and our partners in the wildlife conservation community to modify the language of HR 2807 to meet its intended objective in a reasonable and responsible manner.
Established in 1961, the Ruffed Grouse Society is the one international wildlife conservation organization dedicated to promoting conditions suitable for ruffed grouse, American woodcock and related wildlife to sustain our sport hunting tradition and outdoor heritage.
Information on the RGS, its mission, management projects and membership can be found on the web at: www.ruffedgrousesociety.org .