15
Jun
2004

Amendments to Interior Funding Bill Would Protect Forests, Parks and Wildlife

Your Calls Needed!

The second shoe to drop in this frantic week of legislative activity will hit on Wednesday, June 16, when the U.S. House of Representatives takes up the Interior Appropriations bill for Fiscal Year 2005. Few things are harder to follow than the serpentine course of appropriations bills through the Congress, but few things are more important to our public lands.

Time is very short -- your calls are needed urgently before Wednesday. Please call your Representative and ask her/him to vote FOR pro-conservation amendments in the FY05 Interior appropriations bill and to OPPOSE cuts in the Land and Water Conservation Fund. The Capitol Switchboard, at 202-224-3121, will connect you to your Representative's office. You can look up who your Representative is at:
//ga1.org/wilderness/leg-lookup/search.tcl?domain=wilderness&preview_p=1

Please use the talking points below in your phone call. If you absolutely can't call your Representative, please click here to send him/her a fax immediately from:
//ga1.org/campaign/InteriorAppropriations/wd8ks5x4pin5k6

Talking Points
It takes only a few minutes to call your representative's office. It's painless and the message is simple and straightforward. Ask for the staff person who is handling the Interior Appropriations bill. Identify yourself and explain you're calling to urge the representative to oppose draconian cuts in the Land and Water Conservation fund and to vote FOR four amendments to the Fiscal Year 05 Interior Appropriations bill:

- The Holt-Shays Yellowstone Snowmobile Amendment;
- The Chabot-Andrews Tongass Subsidy Amendment;
- The Udall Forest Wildlife Conservation Amendment; and
- The Hinchey-Bass Yellowstone Bison Amendment.

Amendments Aim to Protect Yellowstone, Tongass, Other National Forests

Several members of the House will offer a common sense conservation package of amendments to the FY05 Appropriations bill to protect Yellowstone National Park, end subsidies for logging on the Tongass National Forest in Alaska, and block new rules that would gut the National Forest Management Act that protects all our forests and their wildlife. This same Interior Appropriations bill proposes to eliminate funding for almost all new Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) land acquisition.

Conservation Amendments to the Appropriations Bill
Not only funding levels are specified in the annual appropriations measures that must pass the Congress. Those bills also often include specific directions and prohibitions for federal agencies. This year, The Wilderness Society is working hard for passage of four such amendments, a sensible, bipartisan conservation package to protect some of America's best-known lands.

The Yellowstone Snowmobile Amendment
Reps. Rush Holt (D-NJ), Christopher Shays (R-CT), Nick Rahall (D-WV) and Tim Johnson (R-IL) will offer an amendment to protect America's first national park. It would require completion of the timely phase-out of snowmobiles from Yellowstone and nearby Grand Teton National Parks. The National Park Service and the Environmental Protection Agency have found that a transition from snowmobile to snowcoach access is necessary to protect public health, wildlife and the parks' natural environment.

Americans strongly support this transition to less intrusive, less polluting snowcoaches for the two parks. Under the amendment, the public will continue to enjoy full access to Yellowstone, while snowmobiling use will continue on millions of acres of public lands surrounding Yellowstone.

For more information on Yellowstone snowmobiles go to:
//www.wilderness.org/WhereWeWork/Wyoming/orv.cfm

Tongass Subsidy Elimination Amendment
The Tongass National Forest in southeast Alaska is America's Rainforest. It's our largest national forest, one of the wildest and among the richest in wildlife with bears, wolves, salmon and bald eagles in abundance. In a policy remarkably like hiring someone to damage your dearest possessions, American taxpayers have lost as much as $35 million in a single year to subsidize logging on the Tongass.

Reps. Steve Chabot (R-OH) and Robert Andrews (D-NJ) will offer the Tongass Subsidy Amendment" to prohibit spending of tax dollars to build new roads in the Tongass. If the President and the Congress are serious about cutting government waste, this subsidy to the Alaska timber industry is a perfect place to begin.

In all, we taxpayers have spent nearly a billion dollars since 1982 to subsidize the logging of America's temperate-zone rainforest. The forest deserves better; so do American taxpayers! For more information on the Tongass National Forest go to:
//www.wilderness.org/WhereWeWork/Alaska/wilderness.cfm

Forest Wildlife Conservation Amendment
For nearly 30 years, the National Forest Management Act has guided Republican and Democratic administrations in the management of our 191 million acres of national forests. The Act's planning rules, developed under President Reagan, provide common sense standards for sustainable, scientific forest management, including landmark standards that can keep fish and wildlife from extinction.

The fondest wish of the timber industry has been the wholesale revision of these rules. The Administration has obliged by proposing radical new rules that will weaken wildlife protection, undermine public involvement, ignore science and play favorites with special interests.

Rep. Tom Udall (D-NM) will offer the "Forest Wildlife Conservation" amendment to block these disastrous new rules. His amendment will ensure that we continue to strive for sustainable management of our national forests and protection of their wildlife. Over 325 prominent scientists, including E.O. Wilson, have urged the Administration to withdraw this special-interest revision of the rules.

For more information on the National Forest Management Act and the proposed rule changes go to:
//www.wilderness.org/OurIssues/Forests/index.cfm#regs

The Yellowstone Bison Amendment
Rep. Maurice Hinchey (D-NY) and Rep. Charles Bass (R-NY) will offer an amendment to deny funds for the continued slaughter of bison that leave Yellowstone each winter to seek food on adjacent public lands. If passed, the amendment would force the National Park Service to find common-sense solutions to bison herd management. Last year, a similar amendment very nearly succeeded; your representative could make the difference this year.

Over the past two decades, the National Park Service, the same agency that is charged with protecting wildlife and other park resources, has slaughtered over 3,700 Yellowstone bison. This year alone, the agency captured 482 bison inside the park and sent 277 to slaughter. Bison are a national icon and Yellowstone's bison are the only genetic link to the great herds of millions that once ranged over the western plains. This is no way to treat a national symbol!

For more information on the Yellowstone bison slaughter go to:
//www.wilderness.org/WhereWeWork/Wyoming/BuffaloPreservationAct.cfm

Land and Water Conservation Fund Attacked
This House is proposing to eliminate funding for almost all new federal land acquisitions through the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF). LWCF is one of the most popular programs of the federal government. This bipartisan measure has served since 1964 to conserve land, water and open spaces, by buying land from willing sellers.

It works to complete and expand our treasured national parks, forests, refuges, wild lands and recreation areas and to protect watersheds and wildlife habitat and sites of historical and cultural significance. Without it, many of these places will be lost to development. Cutting LWCF funding is desperately shortsighted.

For more information on the Land and Water Conservation Fund, go to:
//www.wilderness.org/OurIssues/Budget/LWCF-FY05.cfm

Please Take Action Now!

Again, there is very little time: the Interior Appropriations bill will come to the House floor as early as this Wednesday, June 16. Please call today -- 202-224-3121 and asked to be connected to your Representative. If you absolutely can't call, you can send a fax to your representative immediately from
//ga1.org/campaign/InteriorAppropriations/wd8ks5x4pin5k6

If you'd like to write your own fax, we've included below a sample letter you can draw from. You can find fax numbers and other congressional contact information at
//ga1.org/wilderness/leg-lookup/search.tcl?domain=wilderness&preview_p=1
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