Gosar Amendment to Protect States' Role in Wildlife Management Clears Key Hurdle

Apr 9, 2014 Issues: Getting Things Done, Natural Resources

For Immediate Release
Date: April 9, 2014


Contact: Garrett Hawkins

Gosar Amendment to Protect States' Role in Wildlife Management Clears Key Hurdle

WASHINGTON, D.C. - Today, U.S. Congressman Paul A. Gosar, D.D.S. (AZ-04) issued the following  statement after his amendment, which requires coordination between the Department of Defense, the Fish and Wildlife Service and States concerning wildlife management on lands adjacent to military installations, was successfully included in H.R.4309 and passed the House Natural Resources Committee:

"My common-sense amendment ensures states are actively involved in coordinating natural resources and wildlife management projects that take place within their borders; our state and local officials are the true experts on the ground and should be allowed a decisive voice in determining what happens on their lands. This amendment strengthens a provision already found in the Sikes Act that requires state coordination with the Department of Defense and Fish and Wildlife Service to carefully balance wildlife management and conservation with military operations without compromising their mission."

Larry Voyles, Director of the Arizona Game and Fish Department, said, "This amendment upholds the North American Model of Wildlife Conservation by reaffirming the long established authorities of the State to manage its wildlife in trust for her citizens."

The 1997 amendments to the Sikes Act require Department of Defense (DOD) installations to prepare and implement Integrated Natural Resources Management Plans (INRMPs), which mandate state participation, for all bases with significant natural resources. As the Fish and Wildlife Service Reports on their website, "Section 101(a)(2) of the Sikes Act requires that the Secretary of a Military Department shall prepare each INRMP for which the Secretary is responsible 'in cooperation with' the FWS and each appropriate State fish and wildlife agency." Although these plans are required on military installations, they are not currently required on lands adjacent to them, even though DOD funds have been authorized since 2009 for these off-installation projects. The Gosar Amendment rectifies this problem by requiring preparation and implementation of Integrated Natural Resources Management Plans, and thereby coordination with States, on lands adjacent to military installations.

The purpose of this amendment is to ensure transparency and coordination, while also preventing an installation from implementing new wildlife management plans by fiat that contradict State’s wildlife management objectives. The Gosar language clarifies installations' duty to properly coordinate and consult with States throughout the management plan process.

Acting Assistant Deputy Under Secretary of Defense Jon Cogner testified in March 2013 before the fisheries subcommittee and praised the use of Integrated Natural Resources Management Plans. He stated these management plans are required under current law at 340 installations and that priorities established by these management plans have led to "forestry and rangeland management; noxious and invasive weed control; natural resource assessments, native habitat restoration; wildlife education; and recreational hunting and fishing programs, including access for disabled sportsmen." Fish and Wildlife Deputy Director Steve Guerton testified in the same hearing that these management plans can be used to encourage voluntary conservation efforts.