Washington Newsletter

3 weeks ago, Nov 03 at 7:32am - khsdba

Trump to Reduce Size of Two National Monuments

Senator Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) revealed that in a telephone conversation he had with President Trump, the President said he would be reducing the size of at least two existing National Monuments in Utah, Bears Ears National Monument and the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument.  This is major news!
 

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H.R. 3990, the National Monument Creation and Protection Act

The House Natural Resources Committee took an important step in October by approving legislation that would make major revisions to the Antiquities Act of 1906.  The measure now goes to the full House for consideration.

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A man and a woman stand on a cliff looking out over the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument. Photo by BLM Utah.

Disaster Funding for Fighting Wildfires

The House of Representatives approved legislation that would provide an additional $576 million for wildfire funding for the U.S. Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management.  The money essentially reimburses those agencies for funds they borrowed from other agency accounts (i.e. recreation) in order to pay for expenses fighting wildfires in fiscal year 2017.  For example, the Forest Service had an appropriation of just $1.8 billion for firefighting but ended up spending over $2.4 billion.  Hence the need for this additional emergency appropriation.
 

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Agency Vacancies 2.0

In our last newsletter we discussed the problem of unfilled executive positions in the Trump Administration especially from our perspective, in the Department of the Interior.  In just the last three weeks we have seen some movement to correct this situation.  A series of appointments has been made at the senior level, positions not requiring Senate confirmation, but positions just below that level.  These are key executive positions for each agency so this is an encouraging development.  Sadly, we are still waiting for individuals to be nominated to head up the National Park Service, the Bureau of Land Management, and the Fish and Wildlife Service.
 

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National Park Service Fee Increase

The National Park Service (NPS) has proposed increasing peak entrance fees for 17 of the most popular National Parks.  The fee increase is in response to the growing backlog in maintenance costs for most sites under the jurisdiction of the National Park Service.   The NPS believes this new peak fee structure will raise about $200 million to $268 million annually.

The proposed fee increases are scheduled to take place during the course of 2018.  In the meantime, NPS is taking comments from the public on the proposed fee structure.  That comment period ends November 23rd.  If you would like to learn more and/or file your comments, please go to this link.
Sincerely,
 
Larry E. Smith
Executive Director
Americans for Responsible Recreational Access (ARRA)

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