Sportsmen say upfront public lands planning provides more safeguards for wildlife and public lands. Image:NWF/Matt Dirksen
WASHINGTON – A national sportsmen’s coalition said Friday that the Bureau of Land Management’s decision to roll back oil and gas leasing reforms on public lands undermines years of works by hunters, anglers and local communities on common-sense efforts to protect fish and wildlife habitat while providing certainty for everyone.
Members of the Sportsmen for Responsible Energy Development coalition pointed to a recent report by 19 sportsmen’s organizations and businesses that stresses the need for smart-from-the-start planning, public engagement and consideration of the long-term impacts on fishing and hunting opportunities. The report, “Lessons Learned: A Blueprint for Securing our Energy Future While Preserving America’s Sporting Heritage,” which features good and bad examples of oil and gas planning, serves as a warning against throwing out the improvements, the coalition said.
“Hunters and anglers have been working for more than a decade to help strike a more appropriate balance between wildlife habitat and energy production on our public lands,” says Whit Fosburgh, president and CEO of the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership. “Unfortunately, the BLM’s decision alters the up-front planning and engagement process and reduces the American public’s ability to have a say in how their public lands are managed. This could easily lead to increased and unnecessary conflict between energy development and fish and wildlife habitat. We encourage the BLM to gather public feedback early in the process, use the best available science, and listen to constituents from every economic sector reliant on public lands—including the hunters, anglers, guides, outfitters, and retailers who drive the $887-billion outdoor recreation economy.”
“The oil and gas leasing reforms gave everyone a chance to look before we lease, head off conflicts, find solutions through collaboration and provide opportunities to hunters and anglers for meaningful involvement,” said Tracy Stone-Manning, the National Wildlife Federation’s associate vice president for public lands. “We owe it to everyone who cherishes our public lands to keep pursuing upfront, common-sense planning that involves local communities and creates more certainty for everyone, including the oil and gas industry.”
“This is a step backward in efforts to balance energy develop with sporting opportunity” said Steve Kandell, director of Trout Unlimited’s Sportsmen’s Conservation Project. “The scrapping of master leasing plans dramatically reduces the opportunities for public involvement and shuts out the voices of local stakeholders, including sportsmen and women, in the management of their favorite places to fish and hunt. The move clearly establishes oil and gas development as the priority use of public lands for this administration. We ask the administration to work with the sporting community in identifying a new policy that protects our sporting heritage.”
The oil and gas leasing reforms rescinded by the BLM provided earlier and more frequent opportunities for public input. Image:BLM