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Wittman emphasizes local issues at Natural Resources hearing

Wittman emphasizes local issues at Natural Resources hearing

WASHINGTON – Congressman Rob Wittman (VA-01) advocated for local, Virginia issues today at the Committee on Natural Resources’ oversight hearing with Secretary of Interior Ryan Zinke. Rep. Wittman focused on five local issues: Virginia tribal funding, Chesapeake Bay clean-up efforts, Fones Cliffs, Atlantic menhaden management, and wildlife refuge volunteer programs. The hearing was titled, “Policy Priorities at the Department of the Interior and the Administration’s Fiscal Year 2019 Budget Proposal.” The full hearing is available here.

He thanked Secretary Zinke for his support of Rep. Wittman’s bill, which is now law, that gave recognition to six Virginia Indian tribes. H.R. 984, enables these tribes to pursue repatriation of historical and cultural artifacts, comment on federal agency actions that could affect their future, and gain access to a number of federal programs. He asked that the secretary secure the requested $961,000 that would go towards helping each tribe carry out the day-to-day responsibilities and operations of a tribal government.

“Clean up efforts for the Chesapeake Bay are absolutely critical, and the partnerships with the Department of Interior are very important to making sure these programs are successful,” Wittman said. “The Chesapeake Bay is a great treasure not only for Virginia, but for the nation. It also plays a critical role in Virginia’s economy. As we go through the budgeting process, we must highlight the importance of the programs and fund them accordingly.”

“Fones Cliffs is an area on the Rappahannock River and is a high priority conservation site as it has one of the largest concentrations of bald eagles in the continental United States. I look forward to working with the Department of Interior to get this land into the refuge system. I am also very interested in federal and interstate management of our Nation’s fisheries, especially Atlantic menhaden. It is critical that our Fisheries Commissions use objective, fact-based decision-making when setting catch limits, especially among the Atlantic coastal states. I appreciate the work your agencies (Fish and Wildlife Service and National Marine Fisheries Service) do and their commitment to science-based fisheries management and the maritime jobs they support in our communities.”

Congressman Wittman also advocated for a bill that he sponsored with Rep. Hakeem Jefferies (D-NY) called the Keep America’s Refuges Operational Act. America’s 561 National Wildlife Refuges are located in all 50 states and the five territories. They make up 150 million acres of pristine public lands dedicated to the conservation of fish and wildlife and host nearly 50 million visitors each year, generating $1.7 billion in economic activity and creating about 27,000 jobs. This bill would reauthorize USFWS volunteer programs for four years. H.R. 3979 passed the House on December 18, 2017, and Congressman Wittman urged the secretary to support its passage in the Senate.

Congressman Rob Wittman represents the 1st District of Virginia. He serves on the House Natural Resources Committee and the House Armed Services Committee, where he is the Chairman of the Seapower and Projection Forces Subcommittee.

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