Interior Appropriations Bill Approved by Committee Includes Newhouse Amendment on Grizzly Bears

June 6, 2018
Press Release
Base bill also includes provisions on North Cascades Smokejumper Base and federal gray wolf delisting

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Rep. Dan Newhouse (R-WA) released the following statement after the House Committee on Appropriations approved the Fiscal Year 2019 Department of Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act. This legislation provides annual funding for the Department of the Interior, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the U.S. Forest Service, the Indian Health Service, and various independent and related agencies. The Committee adopted Rep. Newhouse’s amendment to deny funding for the U.S. Department of Interior proposal to transport grizzly bears to the North Cascades.

“I have heard my constituents loud and clear on their opposition to transporting grizzly bears to the North Cascades, and the rest of the federal government should take note of local communities’ voices as well,” said Rep. Newhouse. “I am pleased that my amendment to deny funding to a proposal to transport grizzlies was adopted by the Committee and included in the legislation approved today. This legislation includes important priorities for rural Central Washington that encompass federal delisting of the gray wolf, wildfire prevention and mitigation, and preserving the North Cascades Smokejumper Base in Winthrop.”

Rep. Newhouse’s measures that are priorities for Central Washington include provisions for the North Cascades Smokejumper Base, gray wolf delisting, the Wolf-Livestock Loss Demonstration Program, and grazing management. The legislation includes the following measures and report language:

Gray Wolves - Bill Language: SEC. 117. (a) Not later than the end of fiscal year 2019, and except as provided in subsection (b), the Secretary of the Interior shall issue a rule to remove the gray wolf (Canis lupus) in each of the 48 contiguous States of the United States and the District of Columbia from the List of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife in section 17.11 of title 50, Code of Federal Regulations, without regard to any other provision of statute or regulation that applies to issuance of such rule. (b) Such issuance (including this section)— (1) shall not be subject to judicial review; and (2) shall not affect the inclusion of the sub species classified as the Mexican gray wolf (Canis lupus baileyi) of the species gray wolf (Canis lupus) in such list.

North Cascades Smokejumper Base - Report Language: The Committee is aware the North Cascades Smokejumper Base in Winthrop, Washington, needs facility upgrades, improvements, and renovations to meet Federal Aviation Administration compliance standards and requirements and understands the Service has completed a Preliminary Project Analysis that recommends maintaining the base. The Committee urges the Service to devote the necessary resources to ensure the base can maintain operational excellence.

Bighorn Sheep Research - Report Language: The Service is urged to collaborate with the Bureau of Land Management and the Agricultural Research Service on research involving the risk of disease transmission between domestic and bighorn sheep. (Same language for BLM w/USFS).

Grazing Management - Report Language: The Committee encourages the Service to improve its monitoring of grazing permits in allotments where riparian streamside health is a concern for listed or threatened species. The Committee also requests that each Forest Service region increase transparency and reporting on how their monitoring resources are used on the ground to satisfy monitoring requirements or for other purposes.

Wildland Firefighting and Prevention – In total, the bill funds wildland firefighting and prevention programs at $3.9 billion, fully funding the 10-year average for wildland fire suppression costs for both the Department of the Interior and the Forest Service, and providing robust additional funding – $500 million– for Forest Service suppression operations. The legislation also includes $655 million for hazardous fuels management, which is $30 million above the fiscal year 2018 level.

Federal Payments to Local Communities – The bill provides $500 million for “Payments In Lieu of Taxes” (PILT), $35 million above the budget request. PILT provides funds for local governments in 49 states to help offset losses in property taxes due to nontaxable federal lands within their counties. Without congressional action, many rural communities would face huge budget shortfalls impacting public safety, education, and other local government responsibilities.