WASHINGTON – As the impacts of the ongoing federal government shutdown continue to ripple across the nation, the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership is urging congressional lawmakers to quickly resolve the crisis for the sake of conservation, sportsmen and America’s all-important outdoors-based economy.
“The government shutdown is bad news for everyone, including Americans everywhere who value clean air and water, access to public lands and wildlife habitat restoration,” said TRCP President and CEO Whit Fosburgh. “In the name of conservation, our outdoor traditions and our economic well being, we urge Congress to unite in quickly resolving this crisis.”
Fosburgh noted that the shutdown will curtail vital conservation efforts taking place nationwide and effectively halt all legislative action, including action related to conservation funding. He affirmed that the TRCP will continue to advocate for the strongest funding levels for conservation through every means possible.
Impacts of the federal closures radiate far beyond the nation’s capital. Millions of sportsmen rely on publicly accessible lands such as national wildlife refuges to get afield or on the water. Hunting, within specified limits, is permitted on more than 329 wildlife refuges. Fishing is permitted on more than 271 wildlife refuges. All are closed under the shutdown. With hunting seasons beginning to crescendo across the country, the impact of these closures will have a major effect, not just on hunters, but on the communities that depend on dollars spent by sportsmen and other outdoor enthusiasts.
“According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, more than 90 million Americans pursued wildlife-related recreation in 2011, spending more than $144 billion,” stated Fosburgh. “Given the substantial economic contributions made by sportsmen to our outdoor-recreation-driven economy – and given the shutdown’s timing, which coincides precisely as hunting seasons are getting under way – the impact will assuredly be substantial.”
The sportsmen’s group also criticized the “piecemeal approach” that some House members are taking by advancing small, stopgap spending bills that would reopen only certain parts of the federal government such as national parks. Last night the House voted down three such bills, one of which would have funded the National Park Service.
“We strongly oppose the effort under way in the House to open only certain sections of the government, such as a bill proposed that would reopen national parks but keep national wildlife refuges closed,” said Fosburgh. “Conservation in this country is overseen by numerous agencies – including the Department of Commerce, BLM, the Forest Service and USDA. Cherry-picking among agencies ignores the broader problem of how this shutdown is negatively impacting sportsmen across the country.
“In an attempt to minimize spending, Congress has hamstrung a sector of our economy that consistently produces significant returns, year in and year out,” Fosburgh concluded. “We look now to our elected officials to take decisive action in rectifying this situation in the interest of sportsmen – as well as all Americans.”