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Panel Reviews Slate of Monument Bills Developed with Local Input, Stakeholder Engagement

WASHINGTON, D.C., February 6, 2018 -

Today, the Subcommittee on Federal Lands held a legislative hearing on a series of bipartisan national monument, conservation and recreation bills highlighting the importance of local stakeholder engagement in conservation management decisions.

H.R. 4895, the “Medgar Evers National Monument Act,” establishes the Medgar Evers National Monument in Jackson, Mississippi.  Introduced by Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-MS) and co-sponsored by Chairman Rob Bishop (R-UT), the bipartisan bill preserves the home of Medgar Evers and honors his legacy as an icon of the Civil Rights movement. 

Designating the home of Medgar Evers [as] a National Monument will be an everlasting tribute to his legacy and journey that countless Americans undertook for equality,” Rep. Thomson stated.

Introduced by Subcommittee on Water, Power & Oceans Chairman Doug Lamborn (R-CO), H.R. 835 expands the boundaries of the Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument in Colorado by roughly 280 acres. Originally designated by Congress in 1969, the monument size is capped at 6,000 acres. 

In May 2016, the National Park Service (NPS) received a proposed donation of 280 acres of private land to expand the monument. Due to the current size of the monument at 5,992 acres, legislative action is needed to expand the boundaries.

“My legislation seeks to only increase the monument size to allow the NPS the ability to accept this critical donation,” Rep. Lamborn stated. “The donated acreage could provide visitors with more recreational opportunities including hiking, snowshoeing, cross country skiing and wildlife watching – all with no supplemental funding or staff needed.”

Commissioner of Teller County, Colorado Norm Steen testified that the expansion of the monument will provide critical access for “wildland fire protection and opportunities for completing hazardous fuel mitigation projects, provide a natural buffer from surrounding developed areas, as well as provide additional wildlife habitat to the Monument.”

“The entire process which brought us to our hearing today was collaborative, transparent, and was done in the interest of what best serves the residents of our County, and the tens of thousands of guests who travel to Teller County each year to visit the Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument,” Steen added.

H.R. 857, the bipartisan “California Off-Road Recreation and Conservation Act” (Rep. Paul Cook, R-CA), promotes conservation and enhanced recreation activities in the California Desert Conservation Area by designating six National Off-Highway Vehicle Recreation Areas, more than 330,000 acres of new wilderness study and 77 miles of new Wild and Scenic Rivers.

“This bill is the product of years of outreach to local governments, tribes, off-highway vehicle users, conservation groups, Chambers of Commerce, miners, and other stakeholders,” Rep. Cook stressed.

Senior Policy Director for California Wilderness Coalition Ryan Henson described an “unprecedented level of locally-based support” for the bill.

“This groundswell is a direct result of intense outreach efforts over the past decade to ensure communities and stakeholders were informed and consulted about the balance and benefits of this legislation,” Henson added.

Volunteer on the Desert District Advisory Council of the Bureau of Land Management and Editor of DeathValley.com Randy Banis described off-road recreation areas as “essential tools for the management of conservation areas.”  

“Providing the public with meaningful and managed opportunities to enjoy off-road recreation on public lands helps to contain high impact activities to where they are most appropriate. [H.R. 857] exemplifies the broad outreach to stakeholders and widespread local collaboration that we all want to see in a federal lands bill,” Banis stated.

Click here to view full witness testimony.

Contact: Committee Press Office 202-225-2761

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