The House Committee on Natural Resources can trace its jurisdictional history to the Committee on Public Lands, which was created on December 17, 1805, on a motion by Representative William Findley, a Democratic-Republican from Pennsylvania. Its jurisdiction would not change until the 1940’s.
In the 80th Congress, after the Legislative Reorganization Act of 1946, various committee jurisdictions were combined into the House Committee on Public Lands. In particular, five former standing Committees from the 19th and early 20th Century were combined into the House Committee on Public Lands. These five committees, along with years they were created, were; Territories (1825), Mines and Mining (1865), Indian Affairs (1821), Irrigation and Reclamation (1893) and Insular Affairs (1899). After the 82nd Congress, on February 2, 1951, the House Committee on Public Lands was renamed the Interior and Insular Affairs Committee, which later became the House Committee on Natural Resources in 1993. Finally, in the 104th Congress (1995), the jurisdiction of the House Merchant Marines and Fisheries Committee (1887) was transferred to the House Committee on Natural Resources.
The Committee has always been tasked with overseeing the nation’s public lands. Conflicts between preserving the land as wilderness and use it for logging, grazing and mining often fall to this committee and then Congress to resolve. The panel also oversees water projects, many environmental issues and even management of wildlife refuges. The committee is crucial to Representatives with many of the nation’s public lands in its districts, especially those from the West.
Click here for a detailed history of the Committee on Natural Resources compiled for the Bicentenial of its founding.
Chairmen of the Committee:
Committee history provided by the Office of the House Historian.
See also: Historical information of the Committee on Resources and its Predecessor Committees, 1807-2002.