Sportsmen Support Congressional Reform of Energy Development on Federal Public Lands
Submitted by Ted Williams on Fri, 06/01/2007 - 10:51.
Survey finds that energy development at bottom of list of sportsmen’s land use priorities WASHINGTON – Results of a comprehensive poll of hunters and anglers released today by the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership (TRCP) found strong support for reform of the federal energy leasing and development process on western public lands. The survey paid particular attention to the concerns of hunters and anglers in the Rocky Mountain West, which is currently facing unprecedented energy development on its public lands. More than two-thirds of sportsmen are concerned about how energy development on public lands in the Rocky Mountain West affects fish and wildlife. However, sportsmen present a voice of reason in the energy debate because, while valuing habitat and recreation, 81% believe that public lands should be managed to balance the needs of fish and wildlife with the need for energy development. Survey results show that the vast majority of respondents believe the most important uses of our public lands are for providing fish and wildlife habitat and outdoor recreation opportunities. Only 29% rated energy development as a top priority and 79% oppose unlimited energy development on federal public lands. In addition, nearly half the respondents rate the Bureau of Land Management and the U.S. Forest Service as fair or poor at managing energy development on their lands, and sportsmen overwhelmingly agree (85%) that the federal government should take more steps to protect fish and wildlife on public lands leased for energy development. “In our survey, hunters and anglers indicated strong support for a balanced approach to energy development on federal public lands rather than the current approach which has resulted in reduced wildlife and recreation opportunities for pursuits like hunting and fishing,” said Dr. Rollin Sparrowe, who chairs the TRCP Fish, Wildlife and Energy Working Group. The working group, which commissioned the survey, has generated a blueprint for reform outlined in the “FACTS for Fish and Wildlife” that is founded on the principles of Funding, Accountability, Coordination, Transparency and Science (more information is available here). The so-called FACTS Principles have been presented directly to the Department of the Interior and Bureau of Land Management, and the TRCP and working group are also looking to Congress for substantive reform. Responsive Management, an internationally recognized public opinion research firm specializing in natural resource issues, conducted the survey interviewing 1,617 randomly selected hunters and anglers. “The sample for this scientific survey was developed using multiple sources, including hunting and fishing licenses, and accurately represents the exact proportion of sportsmen by state, by Bureau of the Census region and the nation,” noted Mark Damian Duda, Executive Director of Responsive Management. “Because the sample was designed this way, and the survey was conducted in a scientifically valid and unbiased manner, we are confident the results accurately represent the views of the nation’s hunters and anglers,” said Duda. The survey asked sportsmen directly about potential land management and legislative changes that could help strike the balance between energy development and fish and wildlife. The respondents strongly supported congressional action as well as policy changes in the land management agencies. These include: • 91% support (with 72% strongly supporting) legislation to require that a portion of the revenues generated from leasing public lands for energy development be used for fish and wildlife conservation. • 89% support (75% strongly support) requiring companies applying for an energy development permit to provide conservation plans showing how they will minimize the impacts of energy development on fish and wildlife. • 90% support (72% strongly support) requiring energy developers to adjust and adapt the energy development process to reduce negative impacts on fish and wildlife. “The survey results clearly demonstrate hunters’ and anglers’ concern regarding the current pace and manner of energy development and should send a signal to federal agencies and industry to come up with a better process to conserve fish and wildlife while developing oil and gas resources,” commented Steve Williams, President of the Wildlife Management Institute. “It is time to establish meaningful management and oversight that addresses fish and wildlife conservation prior to and throughout the energy development process.” “Sportsmen generally have no problem with developing energy resources on their public lands, but we are continually left asking why it has to happen so fast, without better planning to minimize fish and wildlife impacts,” said George Cooper, TRCP President and CEO. “In essence, what we’re saying is, ‘Why not slow down and do it right?” The Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership is a coalition of leading hunting, fishing and conservation organizations and individual partners working together to guarantee access to places to hunt and fish, conserve fish and wildlife habitat, and increase funding for conservation.