Top Fish and Wildlife Priorities Discussed
From Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership
Monday, December 15, 2003
Washington - President George W. Bush along with Interior Secretary Gale Norton and Agriculture Secretary Ann Veneman met with Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership Chairman Jim Range and representatives from several of the country's leading hunting and angling organizations Friday at the White House. The meeting was called in part to thank those in the group who had supported the President's Healthy Forest Initiative which he signed into law as the Healthy Forest Restoration Act on November 21. The meeting also provided an opportunity for the President to address issues that the sporting community has recently identified as top priority conservation concerns.
On November 24, Range and leaders from several of the groups represented at the White House today held talks with Interior Secretary Norton to clearly identify top consensus policy concerns in the view of American hunters and anglers. Today the President and his top Cabinet officials addressed those concerns: continued conservation of the nation's wetlands, protection of the nation's fish and wildlife habitat while expanding energy development on federal lands, better federal funding of wildlife programs, and increased access to land for hunting, fishing and other outdoor recreation.
The President focused in particular on wetlands and energy development. The Administration is currently considering whether a recent Supreme Court ruling requires adjustments to provisions in the Clean Water Act that provide protections for millions of acres of wetlands and thousands of small lakes and ponds. President Bush acknowledged the importance of wetlands to fish and wildlife and pledged to work with the sporting community in determining whether new regulations are created. For over 30 years, the current wetlands protections in the Clean Water Act have served to shield one of the most vital habitats in the United States.
Regarding expanded energy development on federal land in the Rocky Mountain west, the President expressed a determination to develop a policy that is sensitive to the abundant fish and wildlife in that area. The TRCP and its partner organizations have offered to help federal officials design policies for new exploration and drilling that have the least negative impact on native trout, elk, mule deer, pronghorn and sage grouse. President Bush welcomed this and expressed a desire to get direct input from the conservation and sporting community.
The frank and substantive meeting with President Bush was one of several recent signs that the Administration is interested in working with the sporting community on the top conservation priorities of the nation's hunters and anglers. After the meeting, TRCP's Range said "there are issues of major importance to hunters and anglers in play right now in Washington. This President understands the issues and why we are concerned about them."
Among the organizations represented at the meeting were the American Sportfishing Association, BASS, the Boone and Crockett Club, the Congressional Sportsmen's Foundation, Ducks Unlimited, the International Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies, the National Shooting Sports Foundation, the National Wild Turkey Federation, Pheasants Forever, the Ruffed Grouse Society, Safari Club International, the Wildlife Management Institute.
For more information, contact:
Director of Communications
Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership
555 11th Street NW, 6th Floor
Washington, DC 20004