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[1THING] Blog: Archive for June, 2012

[ Land grab masked as a national security measure passes U.S. House of Representatives ]

Anti-wilderness package also allows logging in California roadless areas, clear-cutting of old growth forests in Alaska and virtually rent-free grazing on public lands

Today the U.S. House of Representatives passed a package of anti-wilderness bills (H.R. 2578), including H.R. 1505, the “National Security and Federal Lands Protection Act.” 

H.R. 1505 would hand over “operational control” of federal public lands within 100 miles of the Canadian and Mexican borders to the U.S. border patrol, and could open national parks, wildlife refuges, wilderness and other public lands to development, such as construction and road building. Rep. Raul Grijalva’s (D, AZ-7) amendment to strike H.R. 1505 from the package was unfortunately defeated. This package of bills now awaits movement in the Senate.

Prior to the House vote, a coalition of Hispanic and immigration reform advocates, Native American tribal organizations, sportsmen, businesses and conservation groups, sent a letter to members of Congress voicing their opposition and asking members to vote against the bill.

“H.R. 1505 is an overreach that would adversely affect everyone who enjoys America’s public lands,” said David Moulton, senior legislative director at The Wilderness Society. “The bill would allow road building, construction and development on lands that are loved for hunting, fishing, hiking and other recreational activities. This vote was not in the best interest of the people who enjoy the land for its natural beauty.”

H.R. 1505 is part of an anti-wilderness package that includes, among other destructive bills:

The Sealaska bill would give away tens of thousands of acres of high-value public land from the Tongass National Forest to the Sealaska Corporation. This would allow the corporation to clear-cut valuable forest land and take ownership of the best recreation sites at the heads of bays or mouths of salmon streams. This land giveaway would effectively prevent a long-planned transition out of old growth logging on the national forest, and privatize prime recreation spots that are currently open to the American public for fishing, hunting, and recreation and are relied upon by many small tourism, outfitter and fisheries businesses.

• Title XI, the “Grazing Improvement Act,” is a virtual giveaway of over 247 million acres of Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and National Forest rangelands to the approximately 27,000 livestock producers who have grazing privileges on the lands managed by these two agencies. The bill would change the term of federal livestock grazing leases from the current ten years to 20 years.  No other government entity in the U.S. issues 20-year livestock grazing permits.   In addition, Title XI reduces the level of environmental scrutiny of livestock grazing practices on BLM and National Forest lands by allowing these agencies to exempt the issuance of grazing permits from National Environmental Policy Act review.

The Quincy Library Group bill would take an unsuccessful and outmoded forest management pilot program and expand it across much of northern California, while simultaneously authorizing logging in roadless areas, spotted owl habitat, salmon habitat and other areas of critical environmental importance and mandating minimum annual timber cuts. 

Opposed by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), H.R. 1505 could endanger personal freedoms by closing without notice our lands to hunting, fishing, tourism and recreation, all multi-million dollar industries that support small businesses.  DHS Secretary Napolitano testified before Congress in opposition to H.R. 1505, saying it "is unnecessary, and it’s bad policy." DHS benefits from their close collaboration with law enforcement counterparts in the land management agencies. In addition to threatening lands, the bill threatens this collaboration.

H.R. 1505 is an extreme and radical measure that would put at risk 49 million acres of public lands in 17 states, sweeping away 16 bedrock environmental and land management laws in Joshua Tree National Park, Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, Acadia National Park and any other protected land that sits within 100 miles of the border.

The Wilderness Society recently updated the report, “Wilderness Under Siege,” to reflect the movement of these and other bills and what they would mean to America’s lands, waters and natural legacy. Also mentioned in the report is H.R. 4089 — a Trojan horse bill that includes a sneak attack on wilderness. H.R. 4089 recently passed the House, and awaits passage in the Senate. 

The bills profiled in “Wilderness Under Siege” are out of touch with the American people’s conservation values.

To view Wilderness Under Siege, please visit: http://wilderness.org/content/wilderness-under-siege-act-now-stop-attacks-updated-april-2012

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[ Fossil-Fuel Subsidies: Why We Crunched Numbers ]

Something crucial was missing from the first-ever global inventory of tax breaks for oil companies and other fossil-fuel subsidies when the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development released it last fall. The report detailed all the subtle and not-so-subtle supports for production and consumption of oil, coal, and natural gas in 24 nations, including the world’s most advanced economies—all the OECD countries where data was available. And yet, OECD never totaled the numbers.

“Caution is required in interpreting the support amounts and in aggregating them,” the OECD warned. At the same time, the International Energy Agency (IEA) released its latest analysis on nations with the largest fossil-fuel subsidies, including some of the major energy exporters. The same worries apparently did not apply to the latter group, as IEA named names, added numbers, and ranked countries, with Iran topping the list with $80 billion in 2010 subsidies.

Even though the two lists are indeed quite different, as are the methodologies behind them, we added up the available figures in the OECD inventory and displayed and detailed both sets of countries for readers to explore here:

Interactive map: Fossil-Fuel Burden on State Coffers

Since the IEA was addressing primarily “consumption” subsidies, government supports that make the price of gasoline and other fuels artificially cheap for citizens, the calculations were relatively straightforward and consistent from country to country. IEA just subtracted the difference, or “gap,” between the price consumers paid in each high-subsidy country and the actual price on the world market. That gap expands or contracts depending on global oil prices, the size of the discount citizens enjoy, and the size of a nation’s population.

Fossil-fuel subsidies are much more complex in countries with more advanced and diverse economies than in the oil-reliant states. They involve complicated tax breaks, like the methods oil companies can use to deduct their exploration and production costs. Research and development investments in fossil fuels are counted, as are targeted programs to aid consumers in buying fossil fuel.  Australia, for example, spent $5 billion on fuel tax credits in 2010 that went primarily to businesses operating heavy trucks, as long as they meet certain environmental criteria. In the United States, low-income home energy assistance, which totaled $2.9 billion in 2010, is counted by OECD as a fossil subsidy, since it goes primarily to natural gas utilities to pay winter heating bills.

There can be debate about the merit or value of these subsidies. And, indeed, as OECD points out, tax breaks are quite different country to country, and must be viewed as relative to the overall tax burden in a particular country. But first, people need to gain an understanding of what fossil-fuel subsidies are, why they pose a hazard for both economies and the environment, and at a most basic level: What is the size of the problem?

With fossil-fuel subsidies high on the agenda at Rio+20, the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development in Rio de Janeiro, environmentalists around the world plan demonstrations and a “twitterstorm” today, using the hash tag #endfossilfuelsubsidies to raise awareness.We decided to do our part to aid in understanding, by adding up the numbers that are available now—with all their limitations. Also, in this photo gallery, we take a closer look at the nations with the largest subsidies and their reform efforts:

Pictures: Eleven Nations With Large Fossil-Fuel Subsidies

Better data, more comparable data, and more transparency is needed so that populations around the world can better understand why fossil-fuel subsidies ratchet up energy waste and carbon emissions, and so often fail in helping the poor.

(Related Quiz: What You Don’t Know About Energy Subsidies)

 

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[ Building Green with EarthShare Members ]

Building Green with EarthShare Members

It’s late Spring: bees are buzzing around an abundant, painterly patchwork of sedum flowers below. A breeze ruffles a flag on a flag pole. It’s so blue-sky serene up here atop the 8-story World Wildlife Fund (WWF) headquarters building, you could almost forget all the worries and responsibilities that await you below.

The green roof our member organization WWF sports (the third largest in Washington, DC) retains enough stormwater each year to fill an Olympic-sized swimming pool, preventing polluted runoff from entering the vulnerable Potomac River watershed. It also serves as a haven for wildlife like birds, butterflies and bees, and keeps the building cool on hot summer days.

Wwf

WWF Green Roof / Photo: Erica Flock

 

The WWF roof is just one component of the organization’s captivating green building design. Every piece of the building’s remodel was made with human and environmental health in mind: from the Forestry Stewardship Council-certified wood in the workstations and flooring to the bike lockers, solar hot water heaters and efficient lighting, it’s one of the city’s prized sustainable buildings.

Across the country, EarthShare member organizations are showing their communities what buildings of the future will look like.

Nwf

National Wildlife Federation HQ / Photo: Erica Flock

 

The National Wildlife Federation (NWF) headquarters in Reston, Virginia took the green roof concept and went vertical: their south-facing façade is covered with climbing native vines that keep the building cool and shelter wildlife. True to their mission, NWF made sure the structure reduced impact on local habitat by wreathing the building and parking lot in native plants, and maintaining the integrity of the existing forest on the site. They even keep track of all the creatures that share the land with them.

 

Lovinshome

Amory Lovins' Home / Photo: Rocky Mountain Institute

 

For an organization like the Rocky Mountain Institute, whose founder Amory Lovins is one of the world’s most renowned energy efficiency advocates, you’d expect nothing less than the most cutting-edge building design. Their facilities don’t disappoint: their Boulder, Colorado headquarters remodel cut energy use by 50% from the previous tenants. Lovins' own home is, in his own words, “a giant science experiment”: whatever energy consumption isn’t eliminated from the design is supplied by roof-top solar panels. Lovins’ home is so smart that it actually generates more electricity than it uses!

Workplace sustainability is about more than just technical features like low-flow water fixtures. Buildings should also be places where employees are energized and inspired by their surroundings. The World Resources Institute headquarters in Washington, DC, shares space with the building owner, the American Psychological Association. In 2008 they jointly installed a green roof and labyrinth which has been used since ancient times for meditation. The building is also LEED Gold certified.

Wri

WRI Green Roof / Photo: Laura Lee Dooley

 

Buildings like these inspire the rest of us to think intentionally about the kinds of environments we want to live and work in. They also show us that sustainability doesn’t mean we have to give anything up—in fact, green buildings are usually healthier, more enjoyable places to work than the alternative.

For more green building projects by our member organizations, check out the resources below or visit our Pinterest gallery of EarthShare member group green buildings. Also, search the green roof database or visit the U.S. Green Building Council home page to find a project in your area—many building owners offer tours to help educate the public on the benefits of sustainable buildings.

 

Resources:

Earthjustice’s Green HQ (Oakland, CA)

Arbor Day Foundation Green Roof Demonstrates Downtown Green Space (Lincoln, NE)

NRDC’s Green Offices (New York, NY; Santa Monica and San Francisco, CA; and Washington, DC)

The Green Building Student Conservation Association (Charlestown, NH)

Green Practices at the National Zoo (Washington, DC)

Union of Concerned Scientists Green Headquarters (Cambridge, MA)

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[ Come See Ansel Adams’ Photographs on Display at The Wilderness Society ]

One of the most important landscape photographers of the 20th century, Ansel Adams is renowned for his iconic black and white photographs of the American West.  During the last year of his life, Adams made a gift to The Wilderness Society of 75 of his original prints, which are on permanent display at our Washington, DC headquarters.  We invite you and your friends to join us one evening this summer with photography expert Marie Martin for an intimate look at the images that have served to light the way for wilderness preservation in America.

The Wilderness Society Presents:
WINE, WILDERNESS & ANSEL ADAMS

June 22 – July 26 – August 24

5:00 – 7:30 pm

Remarks at 6:00 pm by Marie Martin

The Wilderness Society Headquarters
1615 M Street, NW, Suite 200, Washington, DC 20036

RSVP (encouraged but not required) to events@tws.org.  For more information, contact Lora Sodini (202) 429-2619.

If you are unable to attend but would still like to support The Wilderness Society's critical mission of protecting wilderness and inspiring Americans to care for our wild places, then please consider making a donation today.

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[ Bigger Houses: An Energy Choice We’ll Be Living With for a Long Time ]

Americans still haven’t lost their taste for living large, at least when it comes to housing.

The latest Census Bureau statistics show that the average new American home got a little bigger in 2011 — just by 88 square feet over 2010, but still a surprise given the poor housing market. Housing experts say this may be a little misleading, because the housing market is so bad that only rich people are building houses — and rich people are more likely to build big.

Still, this underscores one of the biggest challenges we face on energy: We’ve spent decades building bigger and bigger houses, and more space means more energy.

Residential use accounts for roughly one-fifth of all the energy used in the U.S., mostly for heat and hot water. The average American single-family home built in the 1970s took up 2,666 square feet. By 2000-2005, before the housing bubble burst, that had increased to 3,680. More space means more heating and cooling costs — not to mention the fact that we’re packing our houses with more gizmos of all kinds.  What’s more, while the typical house was getting larger, the number of people living in it has been declined from about  3.14 people per household in 1970 to 2.63 per household in 2009. Government statistics show how our appliance needs have shifted. In 1980, only 27 percent of homes had central air conditioning. By 2001, that had grown to 55 percent. The number of homes that had no air conditioning at all fell from 43 percent to 27 percent.

This is one reason, paradoxically, why the great gains made in energy efficiency over the last several decades haven’t paid off in overall energy use. Our homes and appliances are more efficient — the Department of Energy says homes built between 2000 and 2005 use 14 percent less energy per square foot than older homes. But since they’ve also gotten bigger, overall residential energy use is still projected to rise. As we mentioned, the Great Recession has cut back on new housing dramatically. There were about 700,000 new housing units built in 2010, a 66 percent drop over 2006. And the houses that are being built are more likely to be for upper-income people, and thus more elaborate.  For example, of new single family homes built in 2011, 39 percent had 4 or more bedrooms, 57 percent had three or more bathrooms, and 19 percent had a garage that could hold three or more cars.

But there’s an added dilemma here — what we’ve built already will be with us for many years to come.  Housing units aren’t disposable. Usually, they’re around for decades. There were more than 111 million housing units in the United States in 2005 — but only 8 percent had been built in the previous five years. Given the reluctance of nearly everyone to build more new housing these days, we’re going to be buying and living in the units we’ve built over the past several decades for the next several decades. Your children may very well live in housing units that exist right now. And that means we’ll be living with those patterns of energy use as well, unless we get very serious about retrofitting older houses and making even greater efficiencies in heating, cooling and other appliances.

You may think bigger is better, or that small is beautiful. But the choices we’ve made in building houses over the past 30 years are going to shape our energy use for a long, long time.

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[ Report Links Energy Activities to Higher Quake Risk ]

The energy industry may be increasing the risk of earthquakes  by pumping fluids underground, says a new federal scientific study. But the biggest danger is not due to extraction of fuel, but disposal of waste, said the report published Friday by the National Academies of Science.

Hydraulic fracturing of shale formations to unlock gas has been a hot-button issue, with concerns about the link to earthquakes. However, the fracking of the shale does not seem to be the main cause. There are about 35,000 fracked shale gas wells in the U.S., but, the report said, “hydraulic fracturing to date has been confirmed as the cause for felt, seismic events at one location in the world,” a weak but perceptible tremor in Blackpool, England.

Injecting the waste water from shale fracking operations, as well as waste water from other types of projects, may be the more significant cause for worry. There are about 30,000 waste water wells active in the U.S., the report said, with these wells a “suspected or likely cause” of earthquakes at eight sites, including in Ohio, where waste water from other states is being disposed.

(See: “Tracing Links Between Fracking and Earthquakes”)

A recent report by the International Energy Agency called for companies to engage better with communities where they are working and to increase transparency, to earn a “social license to operate.”

But the strongest concerns raised in the NAS report had to do with the fledgling, struggling technology  known as carbon capture and storage. The National Academies report noted that CCS poses seismic risk “because it involves the continuous injection of very large volumes of carbon dioxide [CO2] under high pressure.” The approach is advocated for capturing CO2 from power plants and storing it underground, so that coal and natural gas could continue to be burned while contributing much less to global warming than they do now.

Because the volumes of CO2 injected would be so large, the NAS said the technique could cause ruptures that would make the underground storage leak, allowing the CO2 back into the air—and undermining the reason for capturing the CO2 in the first place. Carbon capture and storage has only been used on a small scale so far, so the report called for more research into the risk of earthquakes and CO2 leakage.

(See: “Amid Economic Concerns, Carbon Capture Faces a Hazy Future”)

Other techniques appear to be associated with a  much higher risk of earthquakes, especially an approach called “enhanced geothermal.” Instead of normal geothermal heating, in which a well is drilled into a rock formation that holds hot water, dry rock is fractured in a way similar to fracturing shale, and water is circulated through the fractured rock, picking up heat as it passes through. Just eight pilot projects in California and Nevada are linked to a relatively high rate of earthquakes, from two to ten each year.

One final way that people are triggering earthquakes is through techniques to extract more oil and gas from old reservoirs, known as secondary and tertiary recovery. However, such problems are “very rare,” the report notes, with more than 100,000 secondary recovery wells linked to 18 felt earthquakes.

In all, the NAS report listed 13 states where seismic events related to all sorts of energy activity had been measured.

 

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[ Restoring the Sierra: Seeing the forest for the trees ]

Image: 

For the vast Sierra Nevada, it’s more important than ever to see the forest for the trees.

And in one area of the Sierra National Forest that bigger picture includes preserving forest health, safeguarding communities from wildfire, improving wildlife habitat and creating local jobs.

All of those goals are part of a unique forest restoration project underway in the Dinkey area of the Sierra National Forest – a popular recreation destination just east of Fresno. It is hoped that the lessons learned here can serve as a blueprint to improve the health of other forests.

The science-based program, known as the Dinkey Collaborative Restoration Project, is focused on 154,000 acres of forests, meadows, lakes, rivers and chaparral.

The Wilderness Society is one of the project’s many diverse partners, which also includes a lumber mill, a utility company, a regional air pollution agency, California Native American tribes, local fire safe councils, the U.S. Forest Service, nonprofit organizations and several universities.

By working together, these partners are focused on the Dinkey’s dense stands of trees that threaten the health of the forest and its residents – both animal and human.

In a healthier forest ecosystem, a variety of trees co-exist in a landscape where periodic fire helps to naturally thin out the density. Instead, many areas of the Dinkey are currently packed with too many small trees that are elbowing out other species.

“Our goal is to retain and promote large tree and denning/nesting structures needed by the Pacific fisher and the California spotted owl and provide sufficient natural regeneration of shade-intolerant tree species for the creation of future fire-adapted forests” explains Stan Van Velsor, a California Wilderness Society forest expert who has been working on the Dinkey collaborative for two years.

When fire whips through these crowded stands of smaller trees, the fire grows more intense, with flames traveling upwards through the trees – even destroying species like Ponderosa pines which can typically survive smaller fires. The fire then becomes a devastating ‘crown fire’ where flames spread rapidly across the crowns of trees and threatens communities and rare species like the Pacific fisher, a shy, furry mammal that is becoming rare in old growth forests of the Sierra Nevada.

So far, the Dinkey project has hired local crews to help thin trees on nearly 5,000 acres, much of this near communities with high forest fire danger.  This year, several other projects are in the works:  reintroducing fire on approximately 2,000 acres through prescribed burning, thinning another 2,500 acres of forest and undertaking several watershed improvement projects like erosion control.

Re-introducing low and moderate intensity fire, Van Velsor explains, is also an important part of the Dinkey project and eventually controlled burns will be used on approximately 46,000 acres.

The Dinkey project, Van Velsor says, restores forest health and will help campers, boaters and fishermen to continue to enjoy this area. Local forest crews employ community residents. And rare species like the Pacific fisher will have better luck finding the black oak where they make their homes.

If forests grow unchecked with no small fires or thinning, smaller species like white fir and incense cedar will crowd out black oak and other tree species. “A multi-species forest is more resilient, more fire tolerant and healthier in the long term,” Van Velsor says.

 

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[ BLM can balance conservation and development in NPR-A ]

ANCHORAGE, ALASKA (June 15, 2012) – As the Bureau of Land Management closes the public comment period on its draft environmental impact statement for the western Arctic’s National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska, The Wilderness Society and its members are urging a management strategy that will protect designated Special Areas within NPR-A.

“The Special Areas of the NPR-A contain globally significant resources, including some of the Arctic’s highest shorebird nesting densities in the world and sensitive habitat for molting geese, two of Alaska’s largest caribou herds, Pacific walrus and other marine mammals, as well as designated critical habitat for America’s polar bears,” said Nicole Whittington-Evans, The Wilderness Society’s regional director for Alaska. “These areas also provide important subsistence resources that Arctic communities have depended on for thousands of years. BLM should take this historic opportunity to choose a balanced plan that ensures protection of these areas while allowing for future oil and gas leasing and development.”

This 23.5 million acre reserve is under pressure from Congress and the oil industry, both of which are eager to drill there despite the U.S. Geological Survey announcing in the fall of 2010 that the amount of oil in the reserve is only one-tenth of what was estimated in 2002, and more abundant oil resources exist in the Prudhoe Bay industrial complex.

The Wilderness Society endorses Alternative B of the BLM Draft Plan because it is the clear choice to effectively and reliably protect key, globally significant habitat areas in the reserve, while also allowing development.

Congress recognized the need to protect important areas of the NPR-A when it transferred these lands from the U.S. Navy to the BLM in 1976 and directed the agency to study and create Special Areas in the NPR-A. BLM has since established four such areas.

“Scientific research at The Wilderness Society has broadened our understanding of the critical importance of the Teshekpuk Lake Special Area, as well as other Special Areas of the NPR-A for caribou, migratory birds and climate change adaptation,” said Whittington-Evans. “We need a balanced management plan for the NPR-A.”
 

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[ Old-growth logging mortgages future of the Tongass National Forest ]

ANCHORAGE, ALASKA – Generations of loggers have seen timber from the Tongass National Forest as a source of income, but a new study indicates that the tradeoffs that come with large-scale harvests of old-growth timber in Southeast Alaska are not worth the short-term gain.  

A new study conducted by Stillwater Sciences for The Wilderness Society examines the effects of timber harvests on coho salmon populations in a heavily logged watershed on Prince of Wales Island, and the results are alarming: Logging and related road construction near Staney Creek likely have caused a 60-percent reduction in annual returns of coho salmon to the Staney Creek watershed. Given that about 70 Tongass watersheds have had at least half their flood-plain forests logged, logging is likely jeopardizing salmon populations throughout Southeast Alaska. Fortunately, there is a solution for maintaining healthy salmon populations in the Tongass — conserving remaining old-growth forests and restoring damaged watersheds.

“Old-growth logging on the Tongass has come with significant cumulative impacts to critical ecosystem services such as fish and wildlife habitat, carbon storage and beautiful vistas,” said Evan Hjerpe, a Wilderness Society economist examining Tongass forest management. “This study highlights the need to shift management funds away from old-growth logging toward the protection of intact watersheds and the restoration of degraded watersheds.”

Such a large loss of potential salmon production is cause for concern in a region heavily dependent on subsistence fishing and where salmon and trout fishing provide 10 percent of annual local jobs. In contrast, timber-industry jobs represent less than one percent of employment. Because it takes centuries for old-growth conditions to develop, logging is mortgaging the future of the Tongass by harming resources that are the real economic drivers of the region.

Trees in unaltered forest stands play a critical role in creating suitable habitat for fish. For example, trees that naturally fall into streams create pools, slow stream flows and provide shade for young fish.  Large, stable trees on nearby slopes reduce erosion from roads and culverts. Shifting Tongass timber dollars to watershed restoration to help restore these and other natural conditions would be an economic and ecological investment in Southeast Alaska.  Investments in watershed restoration have been shown to create more regional jobs per dollar than logging funds and positively impact more sectors of the regional economy. 

“For every dollar the U.S. Forest Service spends on repairing Tongass streams degraded by logging, it spends 20 dollars planning new clearcuts and logging roads,” Hjerpe said.  “This is an unsustainable ratio that comes at the expense of other industries, communities, and the next generation, all of which depend on a healthy Tongass National Forest.”

 

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[ Land grab masked as a national security measure hits House floor next week ]

Bill part of anti-wilderness package would allow logging in California roadless areas, clearcutting of old growth forests in Alaska and virtually rent-free grazing on public lands

The U.S. House of Representatives is expected to consider a slew of bills early next week, including H.R. 1505, the “National Security and Federal Lands Protection Act.”  It would hand over “operational control” of federal public lands within 100 miles of the Canadian and Mexican borders to the U.S. border patrol, and could open national parks, wildlife refuges, wilderness and other public lands to development, such as construction and road building. 

H.R. 1505 is part of an anti-wilderness package expected to hit the House floor next week that includes, among other destructive bills:

The Quincy Library Group bill would take an unsuccessful and outmoded forest management pilot program and expand it across much of northern California, while simultaneously authorizing logging in roadless areas, spotted owl habitat, salmon habitat and other areas of critical environmental importance and mandating minimum annual timber cuts. 

The Sealaska bill would give away tens of thousands of acres of high-value public land from the Tongass National Forest to the Sealaska Corporation, allowing the corporation to clearcut some of the last remaining old growth and take ownership of the best recreation sites at the heads of bays or mouths of salmon streams. This land giveaway would effectively prevent a long-planned transition out of old growth logging on the national forest, and privatize prime recreation spots that are currently open to the American public for fishing, hunting, and recreation and are relied upon by many small tourism, outfitter and fisheries businesses.

• Title XI, the “Grazing Improvement Act” is a virtual giveaway of over 247 million acres of Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and National Forest rangelands to the approximately 27,000 livestock producers who have grazing privileges on the lands managed by these two agencies. The bill would change the term of federal livestock grazing leases from current ten years to 20 years.  No other government entity in the U.S. issues 20-year livestock grazing permits.   In addition, Title XI reduces the level of environmental scrutiny of livestock grazing practices on BLM and National Forest lands by allowing these agencies to exempt the issuance of grazing permits from National Environmental Policy Act review.

Opposed by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS)
, H.R. 1505 could endanger personal freedoms by closing without notice our lands to hunting, fishing, tourism and recreation, all multi-million dollar industries that support small businesses.

“H.R. 1505 is an overreach that would adversely affect everyone who enjoys America’s public lands,” said David Moulton, senior legislative director at The Wilderness Society. “The bill would allow road building, construction and development on lands that are loved for hunting, fishing, hiking and other recreational activities.”

H.R. 1505 is an extreme and radical measure that would put at risk 49 million acres of public lands in 17 states, sweeping away 36 bedrock environmental and land management laws in Joshua Tree National Park, Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, Acadia National Park and any other protected land that sits within 100 miles of the border.

This bill is an extreme and radical measure, and DHS Secretary Napolitano testified before Congress in opposition to H.R. 1505, saying it "is unnecessary, and it’s bad policy." DHS benefits from their close collaboration with law enforcement counterparts in the land management agencies. In addition to threatening lands, the bill threatens this collaboration.

The Wilderness Society recently updated the report, “Wilderness Under Siege,” to reflect the movement of these and other bills and what they would mean to America’s lands, waters and natural legacy. Also mentioned in the report is H.R. 4089 — a Trojan Horse bill that includes a sneak attack on wilderness. H.R. 4089 recently passed the House, and has been introduced as an amendment to the Farm Bill.

The bills profiled in Wilderness Under Siege and the measures expected to hit the house floor next week are out of touch with the American people’s conservation values.
To view Wilderness Under Siege, please visit: http://wilderness.org/content/wilderness-under-siege-act-now-stop-attacks-updated-april-2012

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