Outdoor News July 27, 2018 - Explore! Outdoor News July 27, 2018 - Explore!

Outdoor News July 27, 2018

Park Funding Bill Introduced in House

On Wednesday, U.S. Representative Will Hurd (TX) joined Natural Resources Chairman Rob Bishop (UT), Energy and Water Development Subcommittee Chairman Mike Simpson (ID) and Ranking Member Raul Grijalva (AZ) to introduce the Restore Our Parks & Public Lands Act to jump start overdue maintenance projects in our national parks by directing 50% of unallocated federal mineral revenues to a newly established restoration fund. This bipartisan consensus proposal would provide investments that would go toward reducing the nearly $12 billion backlog the National Park Service (NPS) faces to repair roads, visitor facilities, trails, and other park structures. Similar legislation was previously introduced by Senators Rob Portman (OH), Mark Warner (VA), Lamar Alexander (TN) and Angus King (ME) in the Senate.

San Antonio Mission National Historic Park NPS Photo“National parks are a part of the American experience and the eight I represent, including Big Bend and the San Antonio Missions, provide immeasurable cultural, environmental and economic benefits. We have a responsibility as a nation to care for these natural treasures, yet in 2017 alone, national parks in Texas had a backlog of over $167 million in deferred maintenance – nearly 75 percent of projects are in the 23rd District of Texas,” said Hurd. “This bill provides more flexible financing options and revenue sources to jump start these overdue maintenance projects, so that our parks can remain beautiful and accessible for future generations of park goers to enjoy. I am thankful to Chairman Bishop, Chairman Simpson and Ranking Member Grijalva for our continued conversations to ensure we work together, in a bipartisan manner, to fix this problem.”

Santa Elena Canyon in Big Bend National Park“From San Antonio Missions National Historical Park to Big Bend National Park, our National Park Service protects some of our most historically, culturally and naturally significant places. Yet, due to years of inconsistent funding, our parks face nearly $12 billion in needed repairs from failing water systems to deteriorated trails and crumbling visitor centers. NPCA commends national park champions like Congressman Hurd, for supporting dedicated funding for our parks. With the Restore our Parks and Public Lands Act, Congress is one step closer to ensuring that our parks can continue to provide safe conditions for visitors, while also protecting the resources that help tell our nation’s history.” said Theresa Pierno, President and CEO for National Parks Conservation Association.

“The effort to find a compromise to fix our parks is not only bipartisan; now it is also bicameral,” said Marcia Argust, who directs The Pew Charitable Trusts’ restore America’s parks campaign. “Pew applauds Representative Rob Bishop and his colleagues for collaborating on this proposal, which combines the best of the parks deferred-maintenance bills and provides significant and consistent funding to address the backlog.”

Theresa Pierno, President and CEO for National Parks Conservation Association said, “This bipartisan compromise bill is a major step towards addressing our parks’ maintenance needs, ensuring our most historically, culturally and naturally significant places are preserved for years to come. By restoring park roads, buildings and trails at national parks, we also enhance visitor access and experiences, and provide tremendous economic benefits for gateway communities nationwide."

This bill represents the merging of several approaches to address this important issue. Last year, Rep. Hurd introduced similar bipartisan legislation, the National Park Service Legacy Act, which was critical in bringing together stakeholders from both parties and chambers to ultimately find a solution that can be passed by Congress and signed into law.

Fire Closes Yosemite

Beginning noon Wednesday, Yosemite Valley, Wawona, and the Mariposa Grove in Yosemite National Park were closed to all visitors due to the ongoing impacts of the Ferguson Fire. These closures include all hotels, campgrounds, and visitor services in Yosemite Valley and Wawona. The temporary closure is expected to last until Sunday, July 29, 2018. 

Yosemite ValleySince the fire began on Friday, July 13, several other park facilities and roads have been closed due to fire impacts and the need to support firefighting operations. These closures include the Glacier Point Road, Bridalveil Creek Campground, the Wawona Campground, the Merced Grove of Giant Sequoias and others.

The Big Oak Flat Road west of Crane Flat, Tioga Road, and the Tuolumne Meadows area remain open at this time.  The park will continue to work with the Incident Management Team and assess conditions day by day.

As of yesterday evening,  the fire had burned 44,223 acres and was 27% contained.

For updated 24-hour road and weather conditions for Yosemite National Park, please call 209-372-0200, press 1 and press 1 again. Updated information is also available on the park’s website at www.nps.gov/yose.

Veterans Support LWCF

July 25, 2018, NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Many veterans fought to protect their country on foreign soil, and now it's their homeland they want to protect.

Reelfoot National Wildlife RefugeAccording to the Vet Voice Foundation, the Land and Water Conservation Fund helps keep the outdoors open to everyone and especially is important for veterans who use the land as a place to recover after their service. However, it will expire at the end of September if Congress doesn't vote to reauthorize it.

Paul Eaton, a retired Army major general and managing director of Vet Voice, said the LWCF has protected parts of the Reelfoot National Wildlife Refuge, Chickamauga National Military Park and more. He said these are places where all Americans can recuperate.

"A way that is at once inexpensive and very efficient to deal with a stressor, to work your way through a personal problem, is through introspection and in an environment where you see just how beautiful life can be," he said.

Brigade MonumentThe program receives funding from energy-company royalties paid for oil and gas drilling. Funds also are used to build playgrounds, trails, parks, swimming pools, urban bike paths, soccer fields and more. More than 41,000 projects have been supported by the fund since its creation in 1965, including at least $81 million for Tennessee.

Eaton said he learned how to swim in a pool funded by the LWCF. He praised the program for facilitating outdoor activities for kids and said Congress has a chance to continue to help young people if the program is reauthorized.

"They have in their hands the opportunity to instate, in permanence and full funding, an instrument that has helped more young Americans become better citizens than any other instrument that I can think of for a high return on investment," he said.

Funds also have helped preserve historic military sites, battlefields and monuments.

More information about the foundation is online at vetvoicefoundation.org

Stephanie Carson, Public News Service – TN

Congressional Scorecard for the Outdoors

The outdoor industry and everyone who loves the outdoors now have a convenient new tool with which to measure every member of Congress based on their voting records, favorable or unfavorable legislation they sponsor and their overall support or opposition of outdoor industry policy priorities. That new tool was unveiled on Monday – the Outdoor Industry Association's (OIA) first-ever "OIA Congressional Scorecard – The Official Scorecard of the Outdoor Recreation Industry." OIA released its scorecard as it announced a broader Vote the Outdoors campaign during Outdoor Retailer Summer Market in Denver. The campaign is aimed at educating elected officials, candidates and voters about the benefits of the outdoor recreation economy and important issues in their communities through social and earned media.

Vote The Outdoors LogoOIA's Vote the Outdoors program includes an interactive tool on the OIA website for visitors to use to look up their elected representatives' grades on the OIA Congressional Scorecard. The platform also arms visitors with social media and other tools to help them become more informed voters and laud or challenge their representatives for their votes and support for the outdoor Industry. 

"The outdoor industry and anyone concerned about public lands is gearing up and preparing to vote the outdoors in the 2018 election. Voters want to know and need a resource where they can find how their representatives voted on issues like the Land and Water Conservation Fund, climate change and the protection of our public land," said Alex Boian, OIA's political director. "The OIA Congressional Scorecard and our Vote the Outdoors program are designed to engage anyone who loves the outdoors, to make information about elected officials' voting records, public lands and climate change positions easily accessible and arm voters with resources on how they can positively impact their state and local elections."

Specifically, the OIA Congressional Scorecard ranks Congress on the following:

  • Their voting record on important issues like funding for our national parks, protecting our land and water (like Minnesota's Boundary Waters and the Arctic) and key trade votes that impact the outdoor industry 
  • Their support and sponsorship of key outdoor recreation priority legislation like the Land and Water Conservation Fund, the U.S. OUTDOOR Act and the Outdoor Recreation Economy Climate Resolution 
  • Membership in the House Outdoor Recreation Caucus or the Senate Outdoor Recreation Caucus 
  • For a full list of scorecard grading criteria click here

"The outdoor industry and the $887 billion outdoor recreation economy are growing across the country, so more members of the voting public want to know their congressional member's stance on outdoor issues," said Amy Roberts, executive director of OIA. "Americans have witnessed a rollback of protections for public lands, where the vast majority of outdoor recreation takes place. This has resulted in a jump in the number of Americans identifying themselves as conservationists and expressing a desire to become better educated on the positive role recreation plays in their local economies and the well-being of families and communities."

Confluence Accords

On Wednesday, representatives from Colorado, Montana, North Carolina, Oregon, Utah, Vermont, Washington and Wyoming signed the Confluence Accords, which outline shared political principles for the outdoor recreation industry.

"The Confluence Accords are a roadmap for the outdoor recreation industry that recognize it's about so much more than getting people outside," said Governor John Hickenlooper or Colorado. "This collaborative work will serve as a national model and strengthen the collective voice of this industry."

The Accords were first drafted in January at the Outdoor Retailer Snow Show in Denver and focused on four key pillars: Confluence Accords

  • Conservation and Stewardship 
  • Education and Workforce Training 
  • Economic Development 
  • Public Health and Wellness

"This bipartisan effort is about harnessing the incredible power of the outdoor recreation community and creating a set of shared principles that each signing member can stand by," said Luis Benitez, director of Colorado's Outdoor Recreation Industry Office. "The economic impact of the industry is undeniable, but with these principles we now have a framework for the industry's political strength."

Kansas, Michigan, Maryland and Arkansas are all observer states who are working to join the Accords at the next Confluence Summit in January. 

View the full Confluence Accords here.

 

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Video of the Week

This week's video explores Big Bend National Park.  You'll discover the history, geology and wildlife of this unique national park.  Narrated by Peter Coyote.

This newsletter is compiled by Jerry Haugen and brought to you by
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