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Zinke Supports Conservation Package

April 15, 2016
Press Release

Zinke Supports Conservation Package

(CONGRESS) April 15, 2016 – Today, Montana Congressman Ryan Zinke announced his support for HR 3173, the Sportsmen’s Conservation and Outdoor Recreation Enhancement Act, also known as the SCORE Act. The bill contains seven provisions to reauthorize or implement ways to fund conservation programs on federal and private lands. Rep. Zinke has proven time and time again he is a champion of conservation and Montana public lands, often voting against his party in favor of LWCF and against public lands sales.

“I believe our public land should be protected and conserved so future generations have the same recreational opportunities that we enjoy,” said Rep. Zinke. “When I came to Congress, I got on the Natural Resources Committee so I could shape policies that are best for Montana and create or reauthorize programs that help conserve our land and public access, like the SCORE Act, SHARE Act, and the Land and Water Conservation Fund. I’m proud to partner with conservation groups and support this important legislation.”  

One of the programs reauthorized in the SCORE Act is the Federal Land Transaction Facilitation Act (FLTFA), which is a western program to help manage public lands. Prior to its expiration in 2011, FLTFA was an important conservation tool. It helped better manage the “checkerboard” of public and private lands by funding Bureau of Land Management (BLM), U.S. Forest Service (USFS), National Park Service (NPS), and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) land conservation projects that increase public access for outdoor recreation, conserve wildlife habitat, protect water quality, and preserve historic and cultural resources. FLTFA in Montana often uses “land for land” swaps in order to  acquire high-priority lands like the Brown’s Gulch near Helena or land near the Red Rock Lakes National Wildlife Refuge.

“The Sportsmen’s Conservation and Outdoor Recreation Enhancement Act is an essential piece of legislation that will not only enhance habitat for fish and wildlife on public and private lands, it contains widely supported provisions that expand access for America’s hunters and anglers to quality hunting and fishing opportunities. We applaud Rep. Zinke’s leadership on behalf of Montana’s sportsmen and women and thank him for joining the ranks of bi-partisan co-sponsors working to move this bill forward. We look forward to working with him and his colleagues to pass this thoughtful legislation,” said Land Tawney, president and CEO of Backcountry Hunters & Anglers.

“We very much appreciate Rep. Zinke signing on as a cosponsor to the SCORE Act,” said David Allen, President & CEO of the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation. “This bill is an important companion to another bipartisan sportsmen’s bill—the SHARE Act—that was already passed by the House and is working its way through the Senate. The SHARE Act directs federal agencies to enhance and facilitate hunting, fishing and recreational shooting on federal lands and increase public access to public lands for hunting, fishing and shooting. The SCORE Act helps fund public land access projects and fish and wildlife habitat improvement projects on public and private land. Together, these bills can greatly help improve habitat and opportunities for hunting, fishing and recreational shooting.”

In addition, the SCORE Act also:

  • Reauthorizes the North American Wetlands Conservation Act*
  • Reauthorizes the Neotropical Migratory Bird Conservation Act.*
  • Includes the bipartisan Making Public Lands Public provision, which requires that 1.5 percent of annual Land and Water Conservation Fund monies be made available to establish and expand recreational access to federal public lands
  • Reauthorize the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, a congressionally-chartered grant-making organization that works with public and private stakeholders.
  • Reauthorizes Partners for Fish and Wildlife, which assists private landowners in preserving habitat for federally-managed species.

*Each federal dollar invested in these grant programs is matched, on average, three times over by non-federal dollars.

“We appreciate Congressman Zinke’s commitment to hunting and fishing through his support of the SCORE Act,” says Joel Webster, the Missoula-based director of Western lands with the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership. “This legislation would help to provide increased public access to public lands in Montana and across the country, and it would reauthorize important conservation programs that benefit fish, wildlife, and sportsmen.”   

Dave Chadwick, Executive Director of the Montana Wildlife Federation said: "The SCORE Act authorizes several habitat and access programs that will provide real, on-the-ground benefits for Montana's hunters and anglers.  We're grateful to Congressman Zinke for working with his colleagues of both parties to pass this bill."

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