Center for Biological Diversity

For Immediate Release, December 12, 2017

Contact:  Brett Hartl, (202) 817-8121, bhartl@biologicaldiversity

House Committee to Advance Bill Gutting Massachusetts's Monomoy National Wildlife Refuge

WASHINGTON— The House Committee on Natural Resources this week will mark up and advance legislation by Rep. William Keating (D-Mass.) to reduce the size of Monomoy National Wildlife Refuge by over two-thirds by giving nearly 4,000 acres of submerged public land and waters to the state of Massachusetts. The legislation would set a dangerous precedent for other coastal wildlife refuges. 

Massachusetts is challenging the ownership of some of Monomoy’s lands and waters in federal court. Keating’s bill would short-circuit that legal process and undermine federal authority on public lands by encouraging states to file similar lawsuits in the hope that Congress will intervene. The committee’s review will be rushed, leaving it little time to deal with the legislation’s weighty consequences.  

“National wildlife refuges shouldn't be ripped apart just to appease special interests or satisfy some politician’s short-term agenda,” said Brett Hartl, government affairs director at the Center for Biological Diversity. “If this bill passes, Monomoy will be a wildlife refuge in name only, and the American people will have lost a real gem within our public lands.”

Monomoy National Wildlife Refuge is home to endangered piping plovers and provides important habitat for the threatened red knot. In 2016, following substantial public comment and participation, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service finalized a “comprehensive conservation plan” for the next 15 years of refuge management. The plan addresses the needs of the state of Massachusetts, including allowing shellfish harvesting within the refuge.

“Our public lands are under attack like never before, and it’s a shame that Keating’s joining the assault,” said Hartl. “If this becomes law, other refuges will be targeted by states that are hostile to public lands. This feeds the energy of misguided politicians who want to undo generations of conservation progress.”

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 1.5 million members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

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