Bill Frist to Congress: Stand up for nature. Don’t starve conservation programs

USA TODAY | I recently visited the Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area—a gem of the national park system in my beloved home state of Tennessee. As I walked its trails, rode horses, camped and met with a wonderful cross-section of Americans along the way, I was grateful for our nation’s public lands and our tradition of bipartisan support for conserving America’s natural resources. More than 24 million jobs are tied to our land—9.3% of total U.S. employment. More than 7 million of us are employed in outdoor recreation; 17 million of us have agricultural jobs. Forests and fisheries account for another 4.8 million jobs.

But right now, I worry about the health of our people, our natural resources, and our government institutions. Getting back to basics for things we all need—healthy land, clean air and water—would be a good start to getting us and our nation on a stronger path. To do that, we need Congress and the Administration to fully support our diverse public lands and investments in our natural resources through effective conservation and science programs.

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