For Immediate Release
James Navarro, Defenders of Wildlife, (202) 772-0247
Oscar Simpson, New Mexico Wildlife Federation, (505) 345-0117
Public Land Management Needs Greater Accountability for Wildlife
New report finds current public land management policy lacks sufficient protection for wildlife
WASHINGTON - A new report
released today by conservation groups and sportsmen's organizations provides a
practical roadmap for restoring balance to public lands management to ensure
healthy wildlife populations.
"Safeguarding fish and wildlife is one of the most important
uses of our public lands because it leads to so many other benefits," said Peter
Nelson, Defenders of Wildlife, director of federal lands program and a lead
author of the report. "After eight years of having the scales tipped in favor of
development, it's time to restore balance, science and public trust to the
management of these lands."
The report, titled "Your Lands, Your Wildlife: Restoring
Balance to the Management of Our Public Lands" offers policy makers a strategy
for meeting the complex social and environmental challenges facing
federal public lands in the 21st century.
Together the Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management
(BLM) steward 449 million acres of land - almost one fifth of the country's land
area - for the benefit of all Americans. That's more land than
These lands hold some of the last remaining intact wildlife
corridors for big game species, provide habitat for countless other species,
both imperiled and common and protect some 3,400 public water supplies. But
they're also under increasing pressure from rapid, poorly planned development
and the dramatic environmental changes associated with global warming.
"Abundant and viable populations of big game, fish and other
wildlife species on a regional scale are the best means of measuring the
vitality of our wildlife and the health of our public lands," said Oscar
Simpson, a sportsman and the conservation policy chair with the New Mexico
Wildlife Federation. "Without healthy lands and watersheds, our local economies,
our water supplies and our quality of life suffer. We've learned a lot about
land management planning over the past decades. It's time to start applying
knowledge, best management and innovation into practice."
According to the report, the first step towards responsible
management is to end the previous administration's practice of favoring oil and
gas drilling, mining and other extractive industries on public lands over all
other land uses. Too often, such development has come at the expense of
wildlife, healthy ecosystems and outdoor recreational activities including
hunting, fishing, birdwatching and other wildlife-watching activities. By
restoring a balance between resource development and land conservation, land
managers will ensure that these lands support all of their multiple uses.
The report recommends directing the Forest Service and BLM to
take responsibility for maintaining sustainable wildlife populations to ensure
the continued economic health and vitality of
lands and surrounding communities for the benefit of all stakeholders. A modern,
flexible management framework will provide a foundation to ensure that land
managers cooperate in managing wildlife across federal agency boundaries, and
provide the tools needed to safeguard wildlife and its habitat from the harmful
effects of global warming.
"The times call for intelligent policies that recognize that
the true implementation of multiple-use means sustainable use," the report
concludes. "No action should diminish our ability to provide values to future