Senator James Inhofe, Chairman
Representative Adam Smith, Chairman
Senator Jack Reed, Ranking Member
Representative Mac Thornberry, Ranking Member
Dear Chairman Inhofe, Chairman Smith, Ranking Member Reed, and Ranking Member Thornberry:
We write to express our support for natural resources provisions recently passed by the House as two amendments to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA):
- An amendment from Rep. Joe Neguse and Rep. Raúl Grijalva that includes:
- The Colorado Outdoor Recreation and Economy Act (CORE), which includes the creation of a National Landscape at Camp Hale to honor the U.S. Army’s 10th Mountain Division
- The Grand Canyon Centennial Protection Act, which permanently bans uranium mining on lands outside of the park that impacts the watershed of this crown jewel of the American landscape. It will protect the greater Grand Canyon landscape and the people who live there for generations to come.
- An amendment from Rep. Diana DeGette that includes the Protecting America’s Wilderness Act (PAW), which will safeguard more than a million acres of public lands and well over 500 miles of rivers in California. PAW also provides protections to land and water in Colorado and Washington.
These amendments would safeguard more than 3 million acres of public lands and designate more than 1,000 miles of Wild and Scenic Rivers. We hope to see these protections for our public lands and rivers emerge as part of the final, post-conference NDAA.
As a group representing more than 700,000 veterans and military families, we know firsthand how important our public lands and rivers are for the health and wellbeing of our nation’s veterans, military families, and active duty service members. Research shows — and something we’ve all realized more during the COVID-19 crisis — that spending time outdoors improves mental and emotional health. For many of us, being able to hike, fish, camp, hunt, and explore our public lands and rivers allows us to heal from our experiences from our service. Spending time outdoors also helps us reconnect with friends and loved ones, and eases our transition back home.
Protecting our public lands and rivers not only benefits our families and our communities today, but also safeguards these important places for future generations.
Our public lands and rivers are a symbol of the country we served at home and abroad. Protecting our nation’s treasured public lands and rivers is a patriotic duty. We strongly urge you to ensure that these natural resources provisions are included in the final version of the NDAA.
Major General (retired) Paul Eaton, U.S. Army
Vet Voice Foundation
Cc: Senate and House Armed Services Committee Staff