Congressman Steven Horsford’s Amendment to Protect the Desert National Wildlife Refuge and Ensure National Security Unanimously Passes Through the House

July 20, 2020
Press Release

Washington, D.C. -- Today, the U.S. House of Representatives unanimously passed Congressman Steven Horsford’s (NV-04) amendment, which will continue to safeguard the Desert National Wildlife Refuge as part of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). 

 

“The Desert National Wildlife Refuge holds historical, cultural, and environmental significance to the people of Nevada and must be protected at all costs,” said Congressman Steven Horsford. “After this latest threat to Nevada’s public lands and endangered Bighorn sheep, I’m proud to have secured the safety of over 840,000 acres of the wildlife refuge while ensuring our Air Force has the necessary tools and technology they need to carry out their mission.”

 

The perfecting amendment (Horsford Amendment 342) on the Nevada Test and Training Range (NTTR) fundamentally alters the ill-conceived language offered by Rep. Bishop of Utah and will protect the Desert National Wildlife Refuge, the largest refuge in the lower 48 states. 

 

The provision will preserve primary jurisdiction for the U.S Fish and Wildlife Service of the Desert National Wildlife Refuge and increases access to the refuge for Tribal communities and the Fish and Wildlife Service. It will prompt the creation of a new Memorandum of Understanding for Range management within the next two years developed by the intergovernmental committee composed of local stakeholders including the affected Tribal Communities, interested federal agencies, the Nevada Department of Wildlife, conservation groups, sportsman’s organization, and the public.

 

Congressman Horsford also joined the Nevada Congressional Delegation in a letter to House leadership urging the protection of the Desert National Wildlife Refuge.

 

Horsford Amendment 342:  

  • Continues to include no expansion of the existing range and increases access for Tribes and the Fish and Wildlife Service, while clarifying that the Fish and Wildlife Service will remain responsible for managing refuge lands under the Refuge Administration Act.

  • Removes the dispute resolution provision entirely. This will return dispute resolution to the status quo, under which interagency conflict is elevated through the executive branch.

  • Removes all reference to co-management, in favor of management coordination. This includes a clear statement that the Secretary of the Interior has administrative jurisdiction over Refuge lands, the Secretary of the Air Force has primary jurisdiction over bombing impact areas, and that the Refuge is managed subject to the Refuge Administration Act, returning management to the status quo.

  • Ensures that all Air Force activities on the Refuge will be in compliance with the Refuge Administration Act, including the activities requested by the Air Force.

  • Ensures the updated memorandum of understanding (MOU) is subject to all clauses of the current MOU, including guarantees that Refuge lands will be managed under the Refuge Administration Act.

  • Expands the definition of affected Tribes to ensure all Tribes with historical connections to the range lands will be able to weigh in on their management.

  • Expands the Interagency Executive Committee to include roles for officials from the State, the State wildlife management agency, sportsmen’s organizations, NGOs, and other stakeholders, keeping in line with Sen. Cortez Masto and Rep. Horsford’s proposal.

  • Guarantees increased access for the Fish and Wildlife Service for a minimum of 54 days per year.

  • Certifies existing air space agreements to prohibit over-flights of the Corn Creek Visitor Center.

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