WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today, U.S. Senator John Barrasso (R-WY), chairman of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works (EPW), delivered the following remarks at a hearing titled “Oversight of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.”
The hearing featured testimony from the Honorable Rob Wallace, assistant secretary for Fish and Wildlife and Parks at the Department of Interior.
For more information on witness testimony click here.
Senator Barrasso’s remarks:
“This morning we are here to conduct oversight over the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
“I welcome our witness, Rob Wallace, who was confirmed in June of last year to be assistant secretary for Fish, Wildlife, and Parks at the U.S. Department of the Interior.
“I have known Assistant Secretary Wallace for 35 years, as he has served in several wildlife conservation leadership roles both in Wyoming and here in Washington.
“Now, Assistant Secretary Wallace oversees the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, which is under the jurisdiction of this committee and the National Park Service, which is under the jurisdiction of the Energy and Natural Resources Committee.
“I look forward to hearing from Mr. Wallace about his priorities for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
“I am especially interested to learn more about what the service is doing to strike the proper balance between wildlife conservation, habitat management, and use of our public lands.
“The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service enforces our nation’s wildlife laws.
“It protects endangered species, restores and conserves wildlife habitat, administers our National Wildlife Refuge System, manages migratory birds, and restores fisheries.
“Over the last three years, the Trump administration has worked to implement policies that benefit our nation’s wildlife, and remove unnecessary barriers to growing our economy.
“For example, the administration recognizes what westerners have known for years, that the Endangered Species Act needs to work better for species and for rural communities.
“The administration finalized three rules last year to improve implementation of the Endangered Species Act.
“These rules revised existing regulations to clarify and improve standards for making listing and delisting decisions, as well as critical habitat designations.
“The Trump administration also recognizes the important role that sportsmen and women play in wildlife management and conservation.
“Last August, Secretary Bernhardt announced that the Department of the Interior would open more than 1.4 million acres of land and waters in our National Wildlife Refuge System to new opportunities for hunting and fishing.
“The president has also signed into law two provisions passed by this committee that improve the ability of states to use Pittman-Robertson Act funds to promote hunting.
“This committee continues to move other significant bipartisan legislation that will help the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service fulfill its important mission.
“In December, this committee reported America’s Conservation Enhancement Act or ACE Act, by voice vote.
“Among other provisions, the legislation reauthorizes important environmental programs, including – the North American Wetlands Conservation Act, the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation Act, and the Chesapeake Bay Program.
“The ACE Act also solidifies partnerships among public agencies and other interested parties that promote fish conservation.
“The ACE Act addresses the terrible, degenerative, highly contagious brain disease known as Chronic Wasting Disease.
“Detected nearly 40 years ago, Chronic Wasting Disease has spread to 26 states and 4 Canadian provinces.
“The ACE Act establishes a Chronic Wasting Disease Task Force at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to address this important wildlife threat.
“The ACE Act passed the Senate in January and I encourage the House to pass it without amendment as soon as possible.
“We need to get this legislation to the president’s desk so the Fish and Wildlife Service can have the tools they need to fulfill their mission.
“I look forward to hearing more about what the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is doing to both protect wildlife and support economic growth.
“As I have said at other hearings, we can – and must –do both.”