Defending Multiple Use of Public Lands
It is every citizen's duty to manage our public lands responsibly to ensure water quality, wildlife habitat, and the multiple-use of our public land base. We need our public lands to be used in a way that appeals to all of our citizens, not just a single group. The Western Caucus believes our public lands hold great benefits for all of us, and the ability to use these resources in an environmentally friendly manner is imperative to ensure their long-term vitality and economic growth. Multiple use is a key element of responsible public lands management.
Throughout our history, non-park federal lands have been available for a variety of activities, from recreation and grazing to mining, energy development and forestry. These principles are embodied in the Multiple-Use Sustained-Yield Act of 1960, in which Congress established that national forests are to be used “for outdoor recreation, range, timber, watershed, and fish and wildlife purposes. "In recent years, a string of statutes and regulations have negatively impacted the ability of these sectors and others to make economic use of many public lands. Restrictions due to endangered species, historic preservation requirements, and other heavy federal impositions eroded the principles of multiple use, and harmed the economy of western states. Revenues generated from grazing, mining, timber operations and recreation are a result of multiple use. Further, these sectors are the economic engine for hundreds of local communities that would disappear if their ability to responsibly and beneficially use these lands for were removed.
Out-of control wilderness designations, an exploding number of areas of critical environmental concern (ACEC), and efforts to prohibit mining and grazing on public lands continue to put multiple use of our federal lands at risk. Each Congress dozens of bills are introduced that would further erode multiple use of federal lands. We will continue to oppose such legislation while supporting efforts to promote hunting and fishing opportunities, and support other recreational activities such as snowmobiling, skiing, and responsible off-road vehicle use on federal lands. The caucuses recognize these activities create indirect and direct jobs for rural western communities.