USA – -(Ammoland.com)- The Boone and Crockett Club applauds the signing in to law of an Omnibus Appropriations Bill that had bipartisan inclusions of forest management reforms and a fix to the wildfire-funding shortfall that has been plaguing the U.S. Forest Service.
Although the provisions have been labeled as a Sportsmen's Package, the Boone and Crockett Club points out these provisions benefit all citizens.
“The history of the conservation movement is highlighted with taking action where and when necessary,” said Ben B. Hollingsworth Jr., president of the Boone and Crockett Club. “When you value wild places, wild things and the opportunity to enjoy them, you fix the problems that need fixing.”
The appropriations bill includes several funding priorities that address the declining health of national forests. One sets aside $2 billion for fire suppression. The recent increase in catastrophic wildfires have forced the U.S. Forest Service to divert crippling amounts of its annual budget to suppressing fires rather than fulfilling its duties of forest management and fire prevention. Another measure improves the vitality of federal forests by strengthening the Good Neighbor Policy, which is an existing cooperative agreement between states and the Forest Service to work together on forest management projects. The fix removes the barriers and allows this policy to reach its full potential.
“The majority of people, including sportsmen, view our national forests as treasured lands in which to recreate and reconnect with nature,” Hollingsworth Jr. explained. “For a host of reasons our forests have fallen into unhealthy condition affecting water quality and wildlife, and fueling fires that are burning longer, hotter and risking lives and property.”
Forest health is not the only problem being solved by the new funding package. It includes permanent reauthorization of the Federal Land Transaction Facilitation Act (FLTFA). The Act allows the Bureau of Land Management to make strategic sales of land that have lower conservation and public access values in order to provide funding for other lands that do have higher value to the people.
“I know our team in Washington has worked tirelessly on these issues for years, and so have a lot of our conservation partners,” Hollingsworth Jr. concluded. “This appropriations bill will deliver real solutions for improving our public land national forests, which over time will enhance forest habitat that is vital to big game. See the problem, fix the problem is how conservation should work and our Congressional leadership did just that.”