NPCA submitted the following positions to members of the House Natural Resources Committee ahead of a legislative markup scheduled for January 29, 2020.
H.R. 1049 – National Heritage Area Act of 2019: NPCA strongly supports this legislation which would establish a system of national heritage areas (NHAs). National heritage areas, designated by Congress, are nationally significant landscapes that preserve American culture and history. These 55 diverse sites in 34 states include landscapes, museums, battlefields, historic buildings and other resources that are maintained through innovative public-private partnerships between businesses, citizen groups, municipalities and other stakeholders interested in promoting an area’s unique character. The National Park Service provides each NHA with technical assistance and a modest amount of federal funding that must be matched dollar for dollar with non-federal funds. Across the board, heritage areas exceed this minimum requirement, raising an average of $5.50 in private, state or local money for every federal dollar they receive. Heritage areas then return these resources to the communities they serve in the form of grants to partnership organizations that use the funding to protect and promote regionally distinct and nationally significant resources.
H.R. 2748 – Safeguarding America’s Future and Environment Act: NPCA supports this legislation which would establish an integrated national approach to respond to the climate crisis by protecting, managing, and conserving fish, wildlife, and plants across the country. National parks provide habitat for over 600 threatened and endangered species as well as hundreds of other species that will all need to adapt to a changing climate. This legislation provides the framework necessary for federal land managers, states, tribes and other partners to move forward with coordinated and proactive planning to ensure these species have the best possible chance of survival.
H.R. 2795 – Wildlife Corridors Conservation Act: NPCA supports this legislation which will ensure wildlife can continue to migrate, move and thrive in the face of increasing threats to their populations. National parks, and the larger ecosystems on which they depend, are home to some of America’s most iconic plant, fish and wildlife species. From pronghorn antelope in Grand Teton to Florida panthers in the Everglades, national parks provide core habitat for a variety of migratory species. But the same species that depend on parks require connectivity to habitat beyond park boundaries to thrive. Whether it’s migrating to seasonal habitats or adapting to climate change, species need the ability to move across the landscape to maintain healthy populations. H.R. 2795 gives federal land managers like the National Park Service the authority to designate National Wildlife Corridors to support connectivity, resilience and adaptability of native fish, wildlife and plants on federal public lands. This is complemented by a grant program for states, tribes and private landowners that would provide additional resources and opportunities for connectivity priorities identified at the local level. Facilitating improved on-the-ground collaboration to encourage habitat connectivity efforts across the country may be the strongest tool for protecting park wildlife for the long term. H.R. 2795 will provide the framework to do this work while respecting the priorities, capacity and needs of land managers at all levels.
H.R. 4348 – Protect America’s Wildlife and Fish in Need of Conservation Act: NPCA supports this legislation which would reverse the damaging changes to Endangered Species Act regulations recently implemented by the administration. The regulations gut critical endangered species protections by making it much more difficult to extend protections to threatened species and species impacted by the effects of climate change. In addition, the altered regulations allow economic factors to be analyzed when deciding if a species should be saved and makes it easier for companies move forward with development projects in critical habitat areas. This legislation would reverse these harmful changes, put science back at the lead of the decision-making process and ensure vulnerable species remain on the path to recovery.
H.R. 5179 - Tribal Wildlife Corridors Act of 2019: NPCA supports this legislation, which would advance the efforts of tribes across the country working to protect and enhance wildlife corridors. As noted above, many national park species migrate beyond park boundaries, and in some cases on to tribal land. This legislation will help ensure national park wildlife are better protected throughout their range.
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