The Land and Water Conservation Fund Act (1964) ensured that all citizens have access to outdoor recreation resources. Its funding came from user fees, an excise tax on motorboat fuels, and Outer Continental Shelf oil revenues. Funds can be used to acquire land for national parks, national forests, and national wildlife refuges. The fund is also used to help states acquire and develop lands used for outdoor recreation.
The Wilderness Act (1964) established a National Wilderness Preservation System that protects wild lands in their natural state. It defined wilderness, in part, as areas where, "man himself is a visitor and does not remain."
The Endangered Species Act (1973) authorized the listing and protection of threatened and endangered species. It also provided the authority to acquire land for the conservation of listed species using funds from the Land and Water Conservation Fund. As a result, bald eagles, peregrine falcons, ospreys, alligators, and many other species have been protected and made notable comebacks.
The Marine Mammal Protection Act (1972) imposed a moratorium on taking or importing marine mammals and their products. Protected species include sea otters, walrus, polar bears, manatees, whales, seals, and sea lions. This act is one reason many whale populations have rebounded from endangered levels.
And the most influential piece of federal wildlife legislation may be one that never even used the term "wildlife." The National Environmental Policy Act (1969) established broad principles that had wildlife at its core. NEPA recognized the profound impact of man's activity on the interrelationships of all components of the natural environment.
Among many other mandates, NEPA requires all federal agencies to prepare detailed environmental impact statements for, "all proposals for legislation and other major Federal actions significantly affecting the quality of the human environment." In such cases, wildlife often wins.
Send questions and comments to Dr. Scott Shalaway, 2222 Fish Ridge Road, Cameron, West Virginia 26033 or by email at sshala...@aol.com.