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A society that will not conserve its topsoil cannot preserve social order for long.
— David Orr
 

ConservAmerica seeks to build common ground between policymakers and stakeholders around policies that protect the environment and economic growth. Our priorities are conservation, public land access, energy abundance and affordability, and environmental stewardship.

CONSERVATION

Each of us is responsible for ensuring the land that shaped our heritage and culture is well cared for and continues to define who we are for generations. As conservatives, we live our conservation values every day. Whether we are farmers, hunters, fishermen or all of the above, we care for the land and water because they are what sustain our bodies and our souls. Too often, though, “environmentalism” is an excuse to impose intrusive and costly government mandates and regulations when better solutions are available. At ConservAmerica, we focus on pathways to responsible stewardship that harness the power of the free market, property rights, and the American spirit of entrepreneurialism while prioritizing local voices in the decision-making process. We support solutions that embrace public-private collaborations and innovation, including the following policies:

  • The bipartisan Recovering America’s Wildlife Act to protect at-risk wildlife by advancing state-based, collaborative and voluntary recovery, while reducing the need for additional regulation or litigation.

  • Reform the Land and Water Conservation Fund to ensure adequate funding for maintaining our public lands and infrastructure.

  • Adopt the Charitable Conservation Easement Program Integrity Act to improve incentives for creating conservation easements.

  • Addressing Chronic Wasting Disease through legislation supporting research and state-based efforts to stop the spread of the deadly disease in deer, elk, reindeer and moose populations in the United States.

  • Focusing on species recovery through economic incentives and collaboration to improve wildlife management and preempt the need for inclusion on the Endangered Species Act.

  • Reduce plastic pollution in the oceans through passage of Save Our Oceans 2.0 Act.

  • Promote drought resiliency through headwaters restoration and conservation.

  • Encourage the creation and protection of natural carbon sinks through public-private partnerships and innovative land management practices.

  • Combat algal blooms and hypoxia through the South Florida Clean Coastal Waters Act.


ACCESS

Our connection with the great outdoors is fundamental to our happiness, well-being and personal development. Therefore providing access to recreational opportunities, including hunting and fishing, on publicly owned lands for the use and enjoyment of present and future generations is a top priority. Our public lands and the resources they contain are an important part of the American story, adding to the strength and stature of the nation and providing a source of revenue for national, state and local needs.

The federal government manages roughly 640 million acres of prairies, forests, rivers and lakes, deserts, mountains, and wetlands across the United States. That’s roughly 28 percent of the nation’s 2.27 billion acres. Management of those lands must balance a number of competing priorities, including protection, recreation and the development of natural resources. The extent to which federal lands should be made available for development, opened to recreation or preserved is often controversial and can put different user groups in conflict with each other. Federal land managers must strive to be as inclusive as possible, while ensuring that the economies of states with higher percentages of federal land are not disadvantaged.

The amount and percentage of federally owned land in each state varies - from 0.3 percent in Connecticut and Iowa to nearly 80 percent in Nevada. The overwhelming majority of federal land is concentrated in the West. In Alaska, more than 61 percent of the land is federally owned. In the Lower 48, the federal government controls over 46 percent of the land in 11 western states, including California, Nevada, Oregon, Washington, Arizona, New Mexico, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, Colorado and Utah. By contrast, the federal government owns just 4.2 percent of lands in the other states.

The following policy ideas represent our commitment to ensuring every American has the ability to get outside and connect with nature:

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  • Increasing access to America’s public lands, including National Wildlife Refuges, Bureau of Land Management lands and National Forests, for outdoor recreation, hunting and fishing through the Authorizing Critical Conservation and Enabling Sportsmen and Sportswomen Act.

  • Reducing the escalating maintenance backlog in our national parks and creating a permanent source of funding by allowing park managers to charge recreation fees through passage of the Recreation Not Red Tape Act and the Restore Our Parks Act.

  • Protecting wildlife from poaching and trafficking, and addressing invasive species through the Wildlife Innovation and Longevity Driver Act.

  • Supporting state wildlife management and sustainability efforts in the face of declining hunters.

  • Building wildlife migration corridors to connect wildlife habitats.

  • Encouraging public-private partnerships, including easements and land exchanges, to improve access to public lands for recreational use.

  • Reauthorize the North American Wetland Conservation Act to conserve and restore waterfowl, fish and wildlife habitat through competitive grants.

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Revitalization

Mining and timber are important industries in the West. ConservAmerica supports policies that focus on revitalizing the economies of mining and timber communities through sustainable development practices, active resource management and public-private initiatives.

Active forest management not only provides a sustainable source of timber for rural economies but also plays a crucial role in returning our public forests to a healthy state. The alternative is catastrophic fire and less resilient landscapes.

Our economic prosperity and high standard of living depend on our ability to harness the power of our natural resources through extraction. This is especially true of our efforts to transition to a low-carbon economy through the transformation of our energy and transportation sectors. Our capacity to produce renewable energy technologies, batteries and electric vehicles, depends on our access, through mining or trade, to affordable supplies of copper, aluminum, iron ore, borates and titanium dioxide. However, the United States is dependent on China and a handful of other countries for nearly all of its supplies of critical minerals.  We cannot achieve our clean energy goals without a domestic mining industry.

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Our priorities include the following issues and legislative proposals.

  • Establish a ‘Good Samaritan’ public-private partnership program to provide liability waivers under the Clean Water Act for environmental organizations, local citizens, businesses and other stakeholders to assist in the cleanup of thousands of abandoned mine sites.

  • Evaluate the impact on small miners of certain Mine Safety and Health Administration regulations that may be more appropriately imposed upon large operations.

  • Establish an expedited permitting process for renewable energy development on reclaimed Abandoned Mine Land.

  • Increase clean water and infrastructure resources for local communities through the Clean Water State Revolving Fund.

  • Reduce America’s dependence on foreign sources of critical minerals through the adoption of the American Mineral Security Act.

  • Enact reforms to move the Forest Service away from the practice of “fire borrowing” funds from other operating accounts to cover the cost of fighting catastrophic wildfires, and instead fund healthy forest management practices, including the reduction of hazardous fuels, through passage of the Resilient Federal Forests Act.

  • Streamline the judicial review process to limit frivolous environmental litigation that cause lengthy, costly delays for energy and infrastructure projects through the Rebuild America Now Act.

  • Reform the National Environmental Policy Act permitting process to strengthen the role of land management agencies in conducting environmental reviews and ensure the process is completed efficiently and in a timely manner by directing agencies to work concurrently.

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BETTER ENERGY CHOICES

America has made great strides in meeting its energy needs through innovation and the development of technologies that have delivered economic growth and energy abundance and affordability while progressively reducing environmental impacts. Our nation must remain competitive in order to continue the research and development needed to ensure access both here and abroad to energy that is abundant, affordable, clean, reliable and secure. The most efficient way to achieve these goals is through policies that encourage competitive markets, private investment, and expanded trade. Policymakers should resist the urge to impose centralized regulations that place a drag on the economy without delivering measurable environmental benefits. The greatest thing we can do for the environment and the economy is to reduce the cost of energy, cutting both the cost of living and the cost of doing business.

We support the following policies:

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There is nothing more conservative than conservation.
— Russell Kirk