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ARRA Washington Newsletter - Feb 2015

(We prefer the new name.)  We have worked with Rep. McClintock and his staff on a number of issues over the years and believe he has a very good understanding of our issues.  He replaces Rep. Rob Bishop (R-Utah) as subcommittee chair since Rep. Bishop has moved up to become the Chairman of the full committee.  With Chairman Bishop and Subcommittee Chair McClintock, the House Resources Committee has a strong team of leaders in place and we look forward to active engagement with them over the course of the next two years.

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Fire Suppression Funding -- One of our disappointments in the last session was the fact that Congress did not approve H.R. 3992, legislation that would provide for the establishment of a separate fund to cover the cost of fighting wildfires.  The establishment of such a fund would end the process by which the Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management must reprogram funds from other departmental activities in order to fund the deficit in the wildfire accounts during times when the forest fire season is costly.  Our interest stems from the fact that the recreation budget for both agencies always gets squeezed when the wildfire accounts run out of money.

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Presidential Declarations -- The Obama Administration continues its pace of reshaping how our public lands are managed.  Monument designations continue, but the latest, most far reaching executive decision has to do with the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska (ANWR).  The Administration just announced that it will begin managing an additional 12 million acres of the refuge as if wilderness.  Congress had previously designated 7 million acres of this refuge as wilderness.

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Forest Service Snowmobile Regulation -- The Forest Service has issued its final rule governing the use of snowmobiles.  Less onerous that the Travel Management Rule covering off-highway vehicles, the rule, nonetheless, will require the various national forests to determine a policy governing snowmobile use on the lands under its jurisdiction.

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Symbolic Votes on Monument Designations, Lesser Prairie Chicken and Wilderness Designations -- During the three week Senate debate on the Keystone pipeline issue, a number of amendments were offered having to do with monument designations, the removal of the lesser prairie chicken from the list of threatened species under the Endangered Species Act and the multiple use designation of certain federal lands.  In every case, these amendments received at least 50 votes or more, but all fell short of the 60 vote margin required for inclusion with the pipeline legislation.  Given the fact that the President had already indicated he would veto the pipeline legislation, votes on these issues were really symbolic in nature.  However, the value of offering these issues up for a vote in the Senate is that we now have the Senate on record.  We now know the supporters and the opponents on each issue. We have already begun to reach out to some of those Senate offices where we have a different view on certain issues.  One can only hope...

Read More of this ARRA Newsletter....

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