USA Online Poll
Sportsmen Call for Conservation in Highway Bill
As we drive our nation’s highways to get from point A to point B, we rarely consider the impacts they have on wildlife, beyond the occasional road kill. Yet highways are a major source of storm water runoff and ultimately a leading cause of water quality degradation in lakes, rivers and estuaries where Americans fish, kayak and recreate in other ways.
As the current Highway Bill nears its expiration at the end of September and a new bill begins to take shape in Congress, the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership (TRCP) is calling for stronger conservation-related policies to both address storm water runoff and provide American hunters, anglers and other outdoor enthusiasts with better access to public lands and waters.
"Now is the perfect time for Congressional leaders to consider ways to strengthen the conservation components of this broad-reaching legislation," said Geoff Mullins, TRCP policy initiatives manager. "The last Highway Bill saw some key conservation gains in transportation policy, but there is so much more that can be done to protect crucial fish and wildlife habitat and promote sportsmen’s recreational use of public lands."
In anticipation of the new legislation, the TRCP helped form the Transportation Conservation Coalition earlier this year. The coalition, made up of 54 sportsmen’s, conservation and other outdoor organizations, has provided a strong and unified voice for sportsmen’s issues in the transportation debate.
The coalition has educated key policy makers about two critical components of a conservation-minded and wildlife-friendly Highway Bill. The first of those is storm water management. In order to diminish the harmful effects of unhindered storm water runoff, the TRCP believes that all new and reconstructed highway projects should be required to assess and mitigate storm water impacts, especially as they relate to sustainable fish and wildlife habitats. The second component is improved access to public lands, rivers and streams. Nearly half of all hunters spend time hunting on public lands, and a lack of access to these areas is cited as the primary reason hunters stop participating in the sport.
"The Highway bill has a tremendous impact on the quality of our hunting and fishing habitats," said Mullins. "Through proper planning and science-based decisions, the policies set in this legislation can go a long way to conserve our fish, wildlife and the habitats on which they rely."