Letter to President Trump from outdoors/sportsmen's organizations: invest in natural infrastructure

17 Feb 2017 1:26 PM | Johnny Sain (Administrator)

Dear Mr. President,

On behalf of the millions of hunters, anglers, shooters, and outdoor enthusiasts that our organizations represent, we write to thank you for your commitment to America’s sportsmen and women. We especially want to thank you for nominating Representative Ryan Zinke to serve as Secretary of Interior and Governor Sonny Perdue for Secretary of Agriculture, both of whom are sportsmen who understand our nation’s conservation heritage.

We write because we believe that there is an opportunity for your Administration to advance three campaign promises simultaneously—creating American jobs, revitalizing rural America, and honoring the conservation legacy of Theodore Roosevelt—by including strategic investments in America’s outdoor economy into the President’s infrastructure package.

America’s outdoor economy is one of the fastest growing parts of our nation’s economy, generating more than $646 billion in annual economic benefit, supporting 6.1 million jobs, and attracting more than 140 million participants (including nearly 40 million hunters and anglers). This burgeoning sector depends upon healthy and accessible public lands, clean water, clean air, and abundant wildlife populations. Investments in natural infrastructure as part of an infrastructure package would bolster the outdoor economy, while creating more jobs (15-28 per $1 million invested) and producing a greater return on investment ($2-2.62 return per $1 invested) than other types of investments because most of the investment goes into labor. Investments in natural infrastructure are an opportunity to significantly improve wildlife habitat and water quality while securing dramatic infrastructure investment savings for the taxpayer. Importantly, many of the jobs created would be in rural communities facing high unemployment.

We specifically encourage the Administration to dedicate 5% of the $1 trillion infrastructure package ($5 billion/year) toward natural infrastructure and conservation investments that will grow America’s outdoor economy, including:

1.Recover America’s Wildlife: Much of the outdoor economy is predicated on healthy wildlife populations, yet thousands of wildlife species are at-risk with more than 1,500 listings pending under the Endangered Species Act. Investing in restoration projects at the state-level (through the Wildlife Conservation and Restoration program at $1.3B/year) will drive non- regulatory collaboration to save at-risk wildlife, reduce the need for expensive “emergency room” measures, and avoid tens of billions of dollars in regulatory/ litigation paralysis—all of which create jobs and strengthen America’s economy. The Blue Ribbon Panel on Sustaining America’s Diverse Fish and Wildlife Resources stands ready to help.

2.Advance Bipartisan Sportsman Legislation: America’s sportsmen have been waiting more than six years for bipartisan sportsmen legislation that expands hunting and fishing access and creates jobs by implementing key on-the-ground conservation and natural infrastructure projects through the North American Wetland Conservation Act, National Fish Habitat Conservation Through Partnerships Act, and a modernized Land and Water Conservation Fund.

3.Confront Forest Fire Crisis: Larger and more frequent wildfires are harming local rural economies, affecting millions of acres of wildlife habitat, and consuming more than half of the U.S. Forest Service budget. There are broadly supported bipartisan solutions that will address the fire funding crisis and improve the agency’s ability to restore wildlife habitat, increase timber yields, and expand recreational opportunities—all of which create jobs.

4.Address Maintenance Backlog: As Rep. Zinke discussed during his confirmation hearing, there is a significant maintenance backlog for our National Parks, National Wildlife Refuges, National Forests, Bureau of Land Management Lands, and Tribal lands. This backlog is hindering the growth of the outdoor economy, contributing to conflicts with local communities, and preventing millions of outdoor enthusiasts from enjoying public lands and spending money in local economies. Such investments will create tens of thousands of jobs.

5.Restore Degraded Habitat: Restoring degraded wildlife habitat on private lands and large landscapes would spur significant rural job growth, while reconnecting key wildlife migratory corridors and cleaning up contaminated waterways. For example, there is bipartisan support for investing a portion of the Abandoned Mine Reclamation Fund in habitat restoration that could help put people back to work, revitalize communities, and expand hunting and fishing opportunities. Similarly, restoring degraded grasslands and coastal and inland wetlands would increase duck and pheasant populations and hunting opportunities, while strengthening local economies.

In addition to accelerating the growth of America’s outdoor economy, we suggest that projects across the entire package be encouraged to enhance wildlife habitat and expand hunter and angler access to lands and waterways. We also recommend that the Administration adopt a simple proposition when considering how best to pay for the infrastructure package: If public resources are taken out of the ground, some of the monetized value should be put back into the ground through investments in conservation and natural infrastructure, as listed above. This principle will ensure that wealth and jobs are not transferred out of rural America and that we are instead “leaving this land even a better land for our descendants than it is for us,” as Theodore Roosevelt envisioned.

Including the investments above in your infrastructure package will create significant jobs and help ensure that you and your administration leave a conservation legacy worthy of President Roosevelt himself. Together, we will show that we can maximize economic growth, while also restoring fish and wildlife populations, expanding access to public lands, ensuring clean air and water, and creating more outdoor recreation opportunities for all Americans. Thank you for embracing hunting, fishing and our nation’s outdoor heritage.

Sincerely,

Alabama Wildlife Federation

National Wild Turkey Federation

Archery Trade Association

National Wildlife Federation

Arkansas Wildlife Federation

National Wildlife Refuge Association

Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies

Nevada Wildlife Federation

Boone and Crockett Club

New Mexico Wildlife Federation

Camp Fire Club of America

North American Grouse Partnership

Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation

North Carolina Wildlife Federation

Conservation Federation of Missouri

North Dakota Wildlife Federation

Conservation Force

Orion- The Hunter's Institute

Council to Advance Hunting and the

Pheasants Forever

Shooting Sports

Quail Forever

Dallas Safari Club

Quality Deer Management Association

Delta Waterfowl

Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation

Ducks Unlimited

Ruffed Grouse Society

Florida Wildlife Federation

Shikar Safari Club International

Georgia Wildlife Federation

South Carolina Wildlife Federation

Houston Safari Club

South Dakota Wildlife Federation

Indiana Wildlife Federation

Sportsmen’s Alliance

Iowa Wildlife Federation

Tennessee Wildlife Federation

Izaak Walton League of America

The Conservation Fund

Kansas Wildlife Federation

The Wildlife Society

Louisiana Wildlife Federation

Theodore Roosevelt Conservation

Masters of Foxhounds Association

Partnership

Michigan United Conservation Clubs

Whitetails Unlimited

Minnesota Conservation Federation

Wildlife Forever

Mississippi Wildlife Federation

Wild Sheep Foundation

Montana Wildlife Federation

Wildlife Management Institute

National Bobwhite Conservation Initiative

Wisconsin Wildlife Federation

National Trappers Association

Wyoming Wildlife Federation

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