What They Are Saying: The Western Conservation Principles

WASHINGTON, D.C. – On October 5, Congressional Western Caucus and Senate Western Caucus Members unveiled a blueprint for effective, science-based conservation titled, "Western Conservation Principles." In contrast to the Biden Administration's top-down preservationist approach, also known as the "30 by 30 initiative," the Principles embrace the policies, tools, and values recognized by rural Americans throughout the West and across the United States who advocate for locally-led conservation, active land and water management, and multiple-use.

Here's what industry groups and conservation advocates have to say about the Western Conservation Principles:

American Exploration and Mining Association: “We appreciate the commonsense approach taken by the Western Caucus to address wide-ranging conservation principles. Conservation and working landscapes, including mining, are not mutually exclusive. We can be pro-mining while also being pro-environment. Unfortunately, already more than half of federal lands are off limits to mining, and efforts to further restrict access put American workers and the mining industry on the sideline when mineral demand is set to skyrocket to meet decarbonization objectives. The U.S. is blessed with mineral resources that we can mine using the world’s highest environmental protection and worker health and safety standards. As we develop conservation priorities, it’s imperative that lands with important mineral deposits remain accessible to responsible mineral exploration and development. Securing our domestic mineral supply chains is essential for our environment, our communities, and all Americans.” 
 
American Farm Bureau Federation, President Zippy Duvall: "The commonsense approach outlined in the Western Conservation Principles reflects the commitment to stewardship and respect for natural resources which generations of farmers and ranchers have displayed. Farmers and ranchers know that effective land management includes multiple use of public lands and respect for private property rights. We appreciate the Senate and Congressional Western Caucuses focusing on these important principles."
 
American Forest Resource Council: “We applaud the Western Caucus for offering a commonsense vision for the conservation of America's public lands that focuses on actual principles, rather than catchy, empty slogans. Decades of arbitrary land designations and restrictions on science-based forest management have resulted in overstocked, unhealthy federal forests and catastrophic wildfires that have devastated communities, natural landscapes, watersheds, and wildlife habitat, while emitting massive amounts of carbon into the atmosphere. With an estimated 80 million acres of federal land at risk of catastrophic wildfire and in need of thinning and restoration, we can’t afford more harmful policies that will only further endanger our forests and communities.”

American Sheep Industry, Senior Director Chase Adams: “The American Sheep Industry Association strongly supports the Western Conservation Principals outlined by the Senate and Western Caucuses. The commonsense recommendations provide a needed and beneficial framework for the President’s 30x30 initiative and recognize the role of all stakeholders in preserving our nation’s public lands through multiple use.”

Family Farm Alliance: Ensuring that the Biden Administration's America the Beautiful initiative works for Western farmers and ranchers is a priority for us. The Western Conservation Principles developed by the Senate and Western Congressional caucuses provide a good guide that will help us monitor the development of that initiative. We appreciate this effort by the caucuses and the opportunity to provide input."
 
National Association of Counties, Executive Director Matthew Chase: “As intergovernmental partners, co-regulators and environmental stewards, counties play an integral role in conservation policy. Counties support active forest management to protect watersheds and reduce the threat of wildfire, science-based wildlife management practices, reclamation of abandoned mines and wells, and a focused effort to remove invasive species. The policy prescriptions outlined in the Western Conservation Principles white paper are consistent with several county priorities, and we thank Chairmen Daines and Newhouse for their efforts on this important, timely report.”

National Stone, Sand, and Gravel Association, Vice President of Government and Regulatory Affairs Michele Stanley: "NSSGA applauds the leadership of Chairman Steve Daines, Chairman Dan Newhouse and the members of the Senate Western Caucus and Congressional Western Caucus for their work to advance the Western Conservation Principles. NSSGA members have a steadfast commitment to conservation in both their business practices and personal lives, as they deliver the construction materials needed to build our modern infrastructure. The Western Caucus Principles stake out a path of sound and transparent policies that will promote environmental stewardship, while also ensuring our ability to efficiently access and supply materials to build America’s infrastructure.”

National Wildlife Federation, President and CEO Collin O'Mara: “As Senator Daines and his colleagues proved when passing the Great American Outdoors Act, conservation can bring us all together. Expanding collaboration, accelerating habitat restoration, improving public land stewardship, reconnecting wildlife corridors, and providing robust voluntary incentives are all critical to conserving and restoring 30% of lands and waters. We appreciate Senator Daines’ and Representative Newhouse’s leadership in supporting collaborative conservation and, while we may not agree on every strategy, we look forward to working together with the Western Caucus to achieve this important conservation goal.”
 
Public Lands Council & National Cattlemen's Beef Association, Executive Director Kaitlynn Glover: “As America’s original conservationists, farmers and ranchers have cared for our nation’s land and water for generations. Good land management practices—especially grazing—have led to strong, healthy ecosystems. Continued support, recognition, and encouragement for these time-honored practices are essential for accomplishing large-scale conservation on our public lands.”
 
The Nature Conservancy, Director of Government Relations for Lands Tom Cors: “We welcome the Western Caucus’ affirmation of the importance of conservation. We appreciate their emphasis on collaboration, the role of working lands, and the need for restoration, investment in, and effective management of public lands. We see many of these themes also highlighted in the Administration's America the Beautiful initiative. We look forward to working with the Administration, the Western Caucus, and partners across the nation in advancing these concepts and broadening the nation's public and private investments in conservation."
 
Western Energy Alliance, President Kathleen Sgamma: “The Western Caucus’ conservation principles strike the right balance for public lands. Preservation only, which seems to be the direction of the Biden 30x30 initiative, is not the right course for the West, where many communities, including otherwise disadvantaged communities, depend on responsible productive uses of public lands. Not only is oil and natural gas development part of that balance, but is the largest source of funding for conservation on public lands. With over 30% of America already protected as federal or state public lands, the Western Caucus principles focus on better management and conservation rather than perpetual federal acquisition.”
 

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