Lands bill restores LWCF, protects iconic rivers 

Tue, 02/12/2019



Feb. 12, 2019 


Shauna Stephenson, Trout Unlimited 

(307) 757-7861, 


Lands bill restores LWCF, protects iconic rivers 

Senate passes historic agreement protecting hundreds of thousands of acres 


(Feb. 12, 2019) WASHINGTON D.C. -- A bill aimed at advancing a long list of key conservation objectives passed the Senate today by a vote of 92 to 8.  

The Natural Resources Management Act, S. 47, is a bipartisan, sweeping package of land and water bills negotiated between leaders in the House and Senate. 

Key among the provisions, S.47 permanently authorizes the Land and Water Conservation Fund, a widely popular program and key component to maintaining hunting and fishing access for sportsmen and women. The program expired on Sept. 30, 2018 and has been stagnant since, waiting for action from Congress. The same package of bills was held up in the previous Congress just before adjourning for the holidays.  

“Today is a good day for conservation,” said Chris Wood, President and CEO of Trout Unlimited. “LWCF has made a positive impact in almost every community in the country. The Senate’s prioritization and passage of this widely supported package is greatly appreciated by the hunting and fishing community. It now falls to the House to follow through and we urge them to do so quickly.” 

In addition to reauthorization of LWCF, the bill will protect iconic rivers such as the North Umpqua, Rogue, Chetco and Elk in Oregon, the Methow and Yakima in Washington and headwater streams to the Yellowstone River in Montana. 

“For anglers, this is a bill that checks off a lot on a long-lingering wish list of measures to advance conservation,” said Corey Fisher, Public Land Policy Director for Trout Unlimited. “It’s not perfect and the provisions to allow public land conveyances in Alaska are certainly concerning, but the bill addresses a number of challenges being faced by fish and wildlife populations by protecting vital habitat.” 

The Natural Resources Management Act includes provisions such as: 

  • The Frank and Jeanne Moore Wild Steelhead Special Management Area Designation Act protects some 100,000 acres on Steamboat Creek, an important spawning tributary of the North Umpqua River used by wild summer steelhead and spring Chinook.    


  • The Oregon Wildlands Act designates more than 250 new miles of Wild and Scenic Rivers, in iconic fisheries like the Rogue, Chetco, Elk, and Molalla basins, and creates new wilderness in the Devil’s Staircase area east of Reedsport.    


  • Methow Headwaters Protection Act places 340,000 acres of U.S. Forest Service land in the Upper Methow Valley off limits to large-scale mining. This much-needed measure is critical to protect crucial coldwater habitat for rainbow trout, cutthroat trout, bull trout, mountain whitefish, Chinook salmon, and steelhead.    


  • The Yellowstone Gateway Protection Act prohibits new mining claims at the doorstep of Yellowstone National Park. Fisheries in the area include the North Fork of Sixmile Creek drainage, which supports an important population of native Yellowstone Cutthroat Trout, as well as headwater streams that feed the Yellowstone River, a world renown blue ribbon trout river.   


  • The California Desert Protection and Recreation Act better protects some 76 miles of streams, including segments of Deep Creek, which provides a rare opportunity for freshwater fishing in Southern California and is one of the region’s few designated Wild Trout streams. The Wilderness and Wild and Scenic River designations conferred by this bill will safeguard and enhance important habitat for fish and other species, fishing and other recreational opportunities, and sources of drinking water for downstream communities.  


  • Yakima River Basin Water Enhancement Act includes federal authorizations needed to advance the Yakima Basin Integrated Plan, a balanced package of actions that will restore hundreds of thousands of salmon and steelhead to the basin, improve water quality and quantity, and support a healthy agricultural and recreational economy. The Plan was agreed upon by a diverse coalition of conservation groups, irrigators, farmers, sportsmen and women, local, state, and federal governments and the Confederated Tribes and Bands of the Yakama Nation. 


Since running out of time in December, numerous Senators have led efforts to finish the job and pass the Natural Resources Management Act, including Senator Lisa Murkowski from Alaska, Senators Steve Daines and Jon Tester from Montana, Senators Cory Gardner and Michael Bennett from Colorado, Senators Maria Cantwell and Patty Murray of Washington, and Senators Wyden and Merkley from Oregon. 

“We want to thank the Senate for seeing this historic agreement through,” Wood said, “Many members of Congress from both sides of the aisle rolled up their sleeves to get this done. In particular, Senator Lisa Murkowski and Senator Maria Cantwell deserve our thanks for their leadership in the last Congress to pull this package together and for upholding the commitment to take up this bill early in the new year. This was a truly bipartisan effort and we’re grateful for the attention paid to iconic landscapes and programs such as LWCF.  Public lands remain the greatest idea America ever had, and passing them intact to our children is the greatest gift we can offer them.” 

The bill will now move to the House for a vote.  


  Trout Unlimited is the nation’s oldest and largest coldwater fisheries conservation organization dedicated to conserving, protecting and restoring North America’s trout and salmon and their watersheds. Follow TU on Facebook and TwitterInstagram and our blog for all the latest information on trout and salmon conservation. 


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