The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

Peter Nelson, Defenders of Wildlife, (202) 772-0202
Kathleen Sutcliffe, Earthjustice, (202) 667-4500
Aislinn Maestas, National Wildlife Federation, (202) 797-6646
Kristina Johnson, Sierra Club, (415) 977-5619
Chris Lancette, The Wilderness Society, (202) 429 2692

America's Wildlife Heritage Act introduced in House of Representatives

Bill seeks to ensure healthy wildlife populations on Forest Service, BLM lands


Representatives Ron Kind (D-Wisc.) and Walter Jones (R-NC)
introduced legislation today aimed at sustaining healthy populations of fish,
wildlife and plants on federal public lands - setting off a round of applause
from sportsmen's organizations, conservation groups and outdoor enthusiasts
across the country.

"The America's Wildlife Heritage Act is a commonsense bill that will bring
the management of our federal public lands into the 21st century," said Michael
Francis, the national forest program director at The Wilderness Society. "For
too long, our national forests and public lands have been managed without
adequately considering the health of the fish, wildlife and plants found on
those lands or the people whose livelihoods and traditions depend on them."

The America's Wildlife Heritage Act, supported by the Your Lands,
Your Wildlife campaign
, provides the U.S. Forest Service and the Bureau of Land
Management (BLM), with clear objectives and science-based tools to sustain and
monitor healthy populations of fish and wildlife and their habitat on national
forests, grasslands and BLM lands.

"It's encouraging to see Congressmen Kind and Jones take a balanced approach
to sustaining wildlife on our public lands," said Dr. Bruce Stein, associate
director of Wildlife Conservation and Global Warming at the National Wildlife
Federation. "Their proposal is a good reminder that these lands can be used for
multiple purposes without jeopardizing fish and wildlife habitat."

America's Wildlife Heritage Act will give the Forest Service and BLM new
directives to protect the fish and wildlife found on these lands, which are
threatened by increasing pressure for resource development, energy production
and global warming. The act also enhances coordination between federal and state
agencies to achieve their objectives, effectively manage natural resources, and
account for fish and wildlife populations that cross agency boundaries.

"As stewards of the people's lands, one of the most important
responsibilities of the Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management is to
ensure that America's fish and wildlife continue to thrive," said Peter Nelson,
Defenders of Wildlife's federal lands program director. "America's Wildlife
Heritage Act gives land managers the tools they need to accomplish this
fundamental stewardship mission."

Forest Service and BLM 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 are also under increasing pressure from rapid, poorly planned development
and the dramatic environmental changes associated with global warming.

"It's time to restore science and public trust to the management of our
Forest Service and BLM lands," said Athan Manuel, the Sierra Club's director of
lands protection. "Currently, federal law mandates that the land be managed for
multiple uses. It is time that we recognized that we can only achieve this if
the land is healthy and managed to produce sustainable populations of fish,
wildlife and plants."

"As federal land managers are faced with the unprecedented challenge of
rapidly changing habitats brought on by global warming, America's Wildlife
Heritage Act will provide them with vital information on the health and
distribution of fish and wildlife populations treasured by all Americans," said
Marty Hayden, vice president for policy and legislation at Earthjustice.

America's Wildlife Heritage Act BillSummary of the America's Wildlife Heritage Act

Learn more about Defenders' work on public lands.