House passes historic public lands protection package 

Tue, 02/26/2019



Feb. 26, 2019 


Shauna Stephenson, Trout Unlimited 

(307) 757-7861, 

Kate Miller, Director of Government Affairs 
(703) 489-6411,  


House passes historic public lands protection package 

Hundreds of thousands of acres of protection for land, fish and wildlife head to President’s desk 

WASHINGTON D.C. -- A major package of bills protecting hundreds of thousands of acres of public lands and providing permanent authorization of the Land and Water Conservation Fund passed the House today with a vote of 363 to 62. 

The swift and bi-partisan action by both the House and Senate to advance the Natural Resources Management Act, a package of more than 100 lands bills, was celebrated by sportsmen and women.  

“The good that has been done with today’s vote will reach communities across the country. Where do we even start?” said Chris Wood, President and CEO of Trout Unlimited. “A decade’s old program to provide access to hunters and anglers has been restored with re-authorization of LWCF. A World War II hero’s beloved steelhead river in Oregon is now protected with the Frank and Jeanne Moore bill. In Washington State and in Montana hundreds of thousands of pristine acres are now safeguarded from the threat of irresponsible mining. For all those who love these places, who worry about what will become of them, your moment of peace that comes with protection is almost here. Today is truly a day for a sportsman's heart to feel full.” 

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. 

  • The Cerros del Norte Conservation Act designates areas within New Mexico’s Rio Grande del Norte National Monument as wilderness areas.  The Rio San Antonio Wilderness area (8,120 acres) and the Cerro Del Yuta Wilderness area (13,240 acres) will benefit public land conservation and local economies. 

Additionally, this legislation also includes measures to reinvigorate the nation’s Conservation Corps and to promote access to public lands and the outdoors (Every Kid Outdoors Act). 

But the package of bills is not without compromise. Sportsmen expressed disappointment with provisions related to land allotments in Alaska, which run counter to the spirit and intent of Alaska’s original Allotment Act and will unnecessarily fragment and privatize important federal public lands in Alaska.  

However, overall the package includes a great number of provisions that Trout Unlimited and our members strongly support. Advancing this legislation into law would be an unprecedented victory for land and water resources.   

From here the bill will be sent to the President’s desk to be signed in to law. 

“This bill is a tribute to the power of collaborative stewardship where communities of place and interest come together to protect and preserve the places they live and the rivers they love to fish,” Wood said. “There is more work to follow, and our efforts to protect and restore the lands and waters that we cherish is never done, but today is a day to celebrate.  We offer our true thanks to our members of Congress and their staff who worked hard to advance this historic agreement, and we celebrate the hard work of sportsmen and women in our efforts to protect these special places across the country.” 



  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.  


Add Content