Some Interesting Twists as the Omnibus Public Lands Management Act Passes Congress
On March 25, the U.S. House of Representatives approved the “Omnibus Public Land Management Act of 2009” (H.R. 146), a 1,216 page package that combines more than 160 individual measures in a huge bill. Among its many provisions, the bill permanently codifies the National Landscape Conservation System; creates two million new acres of wilderness across 9 states; establishes 3 new national park units; designates 1,000 miles of wild and scenic rivers; designates a National Monument and 3 National Conservation Areas; and recognizes new Historic Sites and Heritage Areas. The bill is now on the President’s desk.
You can search a pdf copy of the bill using Adobe Reader to find specific provisions covering Wild and Scenic Rivers, Wilderness designations or National Heritage areas that are in your state. Type in a river or wilderness area name or some other identifying word in the search function of Adobe Reader to reach that provision in the bill. The enrolled bill in the Senate was passed in the House without amendment. Click here to find H.R.146
There are many, many other provisions, including the establishment of a Cooperative Watershed Management Program, authorization of water projects, and technical amendments to existing legislation.
America Outdoors Association made efforts to ensure that recreation access was appropriately maintained wherever possible.
There is some overarching protection for fishing, hunting and recreation in two specific areas of the legislation, including Title V, Wild and Scenic Rivers and Trails, and Title VIII, designating National Heritage Areas. Both Titles include language that states “EFFECT ON ACCESS FOR RECREATIONAL ACTIVITIES.—Nothing in this title shall be construed as affecting access for recreational activities otherwise allowed by law or regulation, including hunting, fishing, or trapping.” Many of the individual designations also have provisions for recreation activities.
The Legislation also gives legislative authority for establishment of the National Landscape Conservation System (NLCS) within the Bureau of Land Management for ecological, scientific and cultural values. The NLCS includes BLM's congressionally designated areas, such as Wilderness, National Monuments, Wild and Scenic Rivers and wilderness study areas. There is a provision in that Title protecting fishing, hunting, trapping and shooting sports. Other forms of recreation are not protected unless they are so protected by other law. Recreation is one of the purposes of The Wilderness Act, for example, and many Wild and Scenic Rivers have recreation designations.
In an interesting twist, Wilderness Watch opposed the Omnibus bill stating:
“The 1,246-page (Omni) contains … 15 separate wilderness bills. Many of the wilderness bills are relatively clean, meaning they don’t contain special provisions that will diminish the integrity of wilderness. However, at least two of the bills -- the Owyhee in Idaho, and the Washington County, Utah bills -- contain numerous harmful provisions that would open these areas to inappropriate activities such as the routine use of ATVs for herding livestock, motor vehicle use (including aircraft) and habitat manipulation by state fish and game agencies, and other damaging activities.”
George Nickas, Wilderness Watch executive director, was quoted in High Country News online as saying, "I recognize there are a lot of good things in (the Omni), but unfortunately the price we paid was too high. And we didn't have to pay it. The environmental community in D.C. -- the Big Greens -- that were pushing it didn't do anything to get the bad provisions out.”
Obama Administration Announces Plan to Free Up Credit and Streamline SBA Loans
Have you been rejected previously for an SBA loan? The goal of President Obama’s small business 2009 Recovery Act is to make credit more available to small businesses by underwriting $15 billion in loans, streamlining the application process and removing some fees associated with applications. The President also announced a new “carryback provision” that will enable some small businesses to claim a tax refund on previous year’s taxes. http://www.irs.gov/newsroom/article/0,,id=205330,00.html
To read more about the announced SBA loan plan, go to http://www.treas.gov/press/releases/reports/tg58_smallbiz_qa.pdf
The additional provisions in the Recovery Act include:
• Microloan Expansion: Provides extra funding for loans and technical assistance to SBA backed micro lenders
• ARC Stabilization Loans: Offers 100% guaranteed deferred payment of loans up to $35,000 to help viable small businesses facing immediate economic hardship make payments on existing qualifying loans
• Expanded 504 Refinancing Project: Allows borrowers to refinance an existing eligible loan as part of a new 504 small business expansion project.
• Surety Bond Program Expansion: Allows more small businesses to compete for contracts by raising the maximum amount for contracts that qualify for SBA surety bonds to $5 million and up to $10 million for certain contracts.
• SBIC Program Expansion: Increases the maximum levels of funding that SBA can provide to SBICs.
• Secondary Market Guarantee for 504 First Mortgages: Provides liquidity to lenders by allowing SBA to guarantee 504 first mortgage pools sold into the secondary market.
• 7(a) Secondary Market Lending Authority: Increases liquidity in the secondary market for SBA loans by directly lending money to brokers to purchase SBA 7(a) loans.
For a list of SBA offices, go to http://www.sba.gov/localresources/index.html
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