Washington, DC – President Barack Obama today signed into law, the Omnibus Public Lands Management Act of 2009. A bundling together of more than 160 individual public lands components, the bill concludes a two-year process through Congress to pass landmark legislation expanding protected wilderness, affirming state fish and wildlife agency authority and bolstering the economy through increased outdoor recreation opportunities.
“Conserving habitats for fish and wildlife is fundamental to ensuring the sustainability of these resources today and for generations to come,” said Matt Hogan, Executive Director of the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies, who attended this afternoon’s White House bill signing. “The Omnibus Public Lands bill recognizes many significant habitats for fish and wildlife that will be managed for the conservation value of these lands and habitats while allowing appropriate uses such as fishing, hunting and wildlife dependent-recreation for all Americans to enjoy the benefits of our great outdoors.”
Among its provisions, the Omnibus Public Lands bill designates upwards of two million acres of new wilderness areas, more than 1,000 miles of wild and scenic rivers and four new national trails as well as creates three new national parks, 10 new national heritage areas and one National Monument and enlarges more than a dozen existing national park units.
The bill also authorizes the establishment of the National Landscape Conservation System (NLCS) under the Bureau of Land Management and explicitly in the statute affirms the authority of the state fish and wildlife agencies to continue to manage fish and wildlife on these NLCS lands. It also assures continued access to these lands for hunting, fishing, trapping and recreational shooting.
“The Association applauds Congress for passing and the President for enacting into law this legislation, which will yield great returns in preserving America’s treasured places and conserving our rich fish and wildlife legacy,” said Hogan. “In addition to the environmental gains from protecting public lands, the economic results derived from increased hunting, fishing and outdoor recreation opportunities are particularly important. Hunters and anglers nationwide contribute more than $120 billion to our economy each year and support close to three million jobs. ”
Read the President’s statement about what he calls one of the most important pieces of natural resource legislation in decades.