Several U.S. House Bills which have implications on both federal wildlife refuges and U.S. military facilities here in northern Michigan have been sent on to the full U.S. House by the Committee on Natural Resources. Specifically, these five fisheries and wildlife-related pieces of legislation include HR 819, HR 910, HR 1080, HR 1300 and HR 1384.
The reauthorization of the Sikes Act (HR 910), the authority to issue a conservation stamp for the Wildlife Refuge System (HR 1384), and (HR 819), a bill which would allow pedestrian and motorized vehicular access in Cape Hatteras National Seashore Recreational Area were all passed without amendment by the House Committee on Natural Resources.
Bills HR 1080 and HR 1300 propose to reauthorize volunteer programs and community partnerships for the benefit of National Wildlife Refuges under the Fish and Wildlife Act of 1956. HR 1080 proposes to amend the Sikes Act and is intended to promote interagency cooperation in conservation programs and reduce adverse impacts on military readiness activities – including the use of Department of Defense (DOD) dollars. This would also include activities related to the Sikes Act such as matching funds for conservation projects off military lands. HR 1080 was introduced by Rep. Bordallo (D-GU).
A proposal was made by Representative John Fleming (R-LA) to amend HR 1300 to change the reauthorization period from 2014 through 2018 to 2015 through 2017. HR 1080 passed through the committee after the addition of four amendments by Fleming. One amendment placed an expiration date of October 1, 2019 on HR 1080 while additional amendments include restrictions on how DOD dollars can be spent and provide for oversight on natural resource projects off military lands.
Other amendments include a prohibition on the use of DOD dollars to acquire property not on a military installation for natural resource conservation projects. Restrictions are also to be placed on the level of funding which can be provided on project administrative fees, and call for the Inspector General of the DOD to annually audit natural resource projects http://thomas.loc.gov/home/gpoxmlc113/h819_ih.xmlwhich are not located on military installations.
An archived webcast of the House Committee on Natural Resources’ markup of these bills is available for viewing by clicking here.
Content for this post has been supplemented by The Wildlife Society.