Joe Neguse elected to chair subcommittee on national parks, forests and public lands
The Congressman is the first Coloradan and first African-American to hold the position
On Wednesday, Congressman Joe Neguse’s office announced that the he was elected to serve as chair of the U.S. House Subcommittee on National Parks, Forests and Public Lands.
Neguse will replace Congresswoman Deb Haaland, who previously chaired the subcommittee, as she leaves to serve as the next secretary of the Department of the Interior.
Neguse, who serves Vail, parts of Avon and other areas of Eagle County, is the first Coloradan to hold the position, and the first African-American to serve in the role since the committee was formed 215 years ago.
“I’m so honored to be elected Chair of the National Parks, Forests and Public Lands Subcommittee as we begin critical work to preserve our public lands, restore our forests and protect our communities from record-breaking wildfires,” Neguse said in a news release. “Colorado is home to diverse and rich ecosystems, and treasured public lands that make up over 36% of our state, including 12 national forests. Our state’s robust outdoor recreation economy also inextricably links Colorado’s lands with our economic growth. As a result, the issues discussed in this Subcommittee have a profound impact on the health and safety of Coloradans, our local economies and every aspect of our environment. For Coloradans to have a voice as our Subcommittee takes up issues surrounding public land preservation, environmental sustainability and wildfire mitigation is absolutely crucial. I look forward to the work ahead for our climate, our lands and for Colorado.”
As chair of the subcommittee, Neguse intends to pursue a “bold and comprehensive agenda” to protect America’s public lands, and will work closely with the Biden Administration and Haaland. In the early days of his tenure, he plans to shepherd a public lands package through the U.S. House of Representatives. He also plans to introduce legislation to establish a 21st Century Conservation Corps and champion major investments in wildfire mitigation, resiliency and recovery in the wake of devastating wildfires in Colorado.
Neguse’s priorities include:
- Strengthening our dedication to conservation and supporting Colorado’s outdoor recreation economy: Legislation such as the Colorado Outdoor Recreation and Economy Act would help ensure that 400,000 acres of some of the most pristine places in Colorado will be protected for future generations and would boost Colorado’s outdoor recreation economy.
- Preparing and responding to wildfire: Colorado experienced a historic 2020 wildfire season, with the three largest fires in state history all occurring in the last year. As climate change continues to impact the Western United States, wildfire season has only become longer, necessitating more attention from Congress.
- Continued support of the Land and Water Conservation Fund: Since its inception, the LWCF program has established over 41,000 parks — including Rocky Mountain National Park, Arapaho and Roosevelt national forests, Lory State Park and other iconic parks in Colorado’s 2nd Congressional District. Nearly 1,000 LWCF grants have leveraged over $147 million for local government and state park investments in Colorado. In the 2nd District alone, there have been 191 LWCF projects. With the historic passage of the Great American Outdoors Act in the 116th Congress, LWCF will receive full and permanent funding.
- Addressing deferred maintenance: Given Colorado’s world-class recreation opportunities, ensuring our public lands are properly maintained is a top priority. As one of our country’s most popular national parks, Rocky Mountain National Park faces a significant maintenance backlog of $84 million. Our park employees are working hard to take care of this beautiful place, but they can’t do it alone.
- Addressing climate change through public lands: America’s public lands are one of the best resources we have to respond to the climate crisis. These protected places help safeguard biodiversity by protecting important wildlife habitat and enhancing ecological connectivity; safeguard ecosystem services, such as clean air and water; and provide abundant opportunities for scientific research.
- Making historic investments in the natural resource workforce: The COVID-19 pandemic has brought an unprecedented economic challenge to communities across the country. As Public Lands Chair, Congressman Neguse is committed to both providing economic relief and supporting the health of our public lands by making historic investments in the natural resource workforce.
- Environmental justice: Justice and equality must be at the center of conservation and environmental policy. It is imperative that Congress ensure that all people have a right to clean air, water and a healthy environment.
- Amplifying Native voices: The views of Indigenous communities are critical when considering public lands policy decisions.
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