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Press Release

Westerman Slams Restrictive New Regulations of National Wildlife Refuge System

WASHINGTON, D.C., February 5, 2024 | Committee Press Office (202-225-2761)
  • WOW Subcommittee

Late last week, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) proposed revisions to its Biological, Integrity, Diversity and Environmental Health (BIDEH) policy and new regulations of the management of national wildlife refuges. House Committee on Natural Resources Chairman Bruce Westerman (R-Ark) issued the following statement in response:

"This new policy is a grave misstep. As a lifelong outdoorsman, I've seen firsthand how our wildlife refuges have benefited from their relationships with farmers to deliver meaningful conversation outcomes. Unfortunately, through this BIDEH policy update, the USFWS is taking steps to destroy this relationship and impose unnecessary hoops for refuge managers and farmers alike. This bureaucratic red tape will only serve to restrict effective habitat management and limit hunting opportunities and public access. I urge the USFWS to reverse course and support policy that recognizes the benefits that our greatest conservationists, American farmers, provide to our refuge system."


On Feb. 1, 2024, the USFWS published a draft regulation concerning the management of wildlife refuges across the United States. The proposed regulation is an update of the BIDEH policy and works to eliminate longstanding and commonplace agricultural practices on lands in the wildlife refuge system.

The regulation would prohibit grazing and farming and significantly alter the existing management precedent on over 560 national wildlife refuges in the United States. The committee has previously fought for increased access to the wildlife refuge system and members have voiced significant concerns about the proposed regulation.