Interior opens 4 million acres of federal land to public use

Hunters, fishers, and farmers are the original conservationists.

Growing up in Central Washington, I have been surrounded by agriculture my whole life.

As farmers and ranchers work to feed the world, we also recognize the importance of conserving our precious natural resources and native species.

The same goes for sportsmen, many of whom hunt or fish in order to honor generational traditions or provide for their families. Without responsible land use, resource development, and local conservation efforts, hunting, farming and fishing as would cease to exist.

The values and merits of these trades and ways of life have been realized by those who came long before us.

Today, rural communities across the country and in central Washington appreciate the benefits of caring for our lands, emulating past generations while also advancing practices and technology to better serve present needs.

The United States is home to some of the most beautiful public lands in the world.

Our national forests, grasslands and landscapes rely on our contributions of active management and responsible use to maintain and preserve these lands for current and future generations. Our farmers and sportsmen understand this, which is why I have been proud to support our locally-led conservation and species management efforts.

I have worked alongside the Trump Administration to modernize and clarify existing land use regulations. I have worked directly with landowners and ranchers in our district to help achieve the shared goal of ensuring our land continues to serve our agriculture industry, recreationists, and native species.

The president-elect of the National Association of Conservation Districts, Michael Crowder, is a resident of Central Washington, and he works each and every day to advocate for local conservation projects across the country while representing our district with pride.

Now, the federal government has taken further action to empower sportsmen and women to continue their important conservation and species management efforts. 

U.S. Department of the Interior Secretary David Bernhardt recently announced the largest expansion of hunting and fishing access in our nation’s history.

By opening up over 4 million acres of public land to our sportsmen and women – including seven refuges and hatcheries in Washington state – more Americans will now have the opportunity to utilize the lands that belong to us.

As U.S. Fish and Wildlife (USFWS) Director Aurelia Skipwith stated, these outdoor activities “epitomize our American heritage.”

This historic move by Secretary Bernhardt will go a long way toward fulfilling our nation’s long-standing conservation and species management objectives.

Additionally, four of the largest national agriculture and sportsmen advocacy groups recently came together to pledge their partnership and collaboration for conservation of our public lands.

The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, Public Lands Council, Ducks Unlimited, and Safari Club International signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the USFWS, demonstrating an impactful commitment to private and voluntary land conservation.

By honoring the cultural and historical significance of our public lands, empowering rural communities to continue locally-led conservation efforts and educating the public on the importance of grazing and hunting on public lands, the MOU promotes responsible use of the lands we love and rely on.

As a strong advocate for conservation of our natural resources, I support the hunters, fishers, and farmers of central Washington and throughout the United States.

I will continue to work in Congress to ensure these activities and traditions — generations in the making – remain strong as we work together keep America and her public lands beautiful, bountiful, and thriving.

U.S. Rep. Dan Newhouse, R-Sunnyside, represents Washington’s Fourth Congressional District in the U.S. House of Representatives.

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