By Tim Gavin and Lisa Pelly
Originally published by the Yakima Herald, November 5, 2016
Rep. Dan Newhouse held a listening session on the state of public lands on Oct. 12 in Wenatchee.
Newhouse was joined by Rep. Rob Bishop, Chairman of the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Natural Resources, who has been a leading critic of public land management agencies and part of the national discussion about the transfer of our nation’s public lands.
The listening session focused on many of the challenges facing our public lands, yet there was little talk about transferring our public lands. This is a breath of fresh air. Transfer or sale of America’s public lands is not a solution to public land management challenges. The answer is public land users and state and federal agencies working together to craft collaborative solutions for America’s public lands.
There is recognition on the importance of public lands not only for recreation, ecosystem diversity and timber production, but also the protection of water supplies that feed communities, agricultural and our rivers and streams. This diversity of uses creates management challenges, but in Washington we have proven track record of diverse interests working out complex natural resource issues. For instance, the Yakima Basin Integrated Plan is a balanced package of actions to address water scarcity issues in ways that will help restore salmon and steelhead fisheries, improve water quality and quantity, and support a healthy agricultural and recreational economy.