Two Democratic lawmakers – one from the East, the other from the West – have introduced a bill to create a vast network of wildlife corridors crisscrossing the entire country.

Introduced by Rep. Rush Holt (D-N.J.) and Jared Polis (D-Colo.) to commemorate Earth Day 2010, the legislation would “protect” wildlife corridors through grants, management plans, and a new federal information program within the Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS).  The bill’s sponsors say their legislation will give wildlife the necessary freedom to roam, contribute to the hunting, fishing, and outdoor recreation economy, and combat “threats” from urban sprawl and climate change.

Under the policies contained in this bill, however, bureaucrats at the FWS would see their already considerable administrative power greatly enhanced.  The new federal information program within the FWS, for example,  would take the lead in planning and development decisions by federal agencies, as well as state and tribal governments.  Also, a Wildlife Stewardship and Conservation Fund within the FWS would provide grants to federal, state, and local governments, non-profit organizations, and companies for the management and protection of “essential” wildlife corridors. 

What’s more, the Agriculture, Interior, and Transportation departments would be directed to consider the preservation of these migration paths in developing their management plans.

“Today, wildlife corridors are vital to the outdoor traditions that are a central part of our national character,” Congressman Holt said in a statement.  “As we celebrate Earth Day this week, we recognize that protecting our planet entails protecting all of its inhabitants.”  It is not clear whether Holt, in vowing to protect all of the planet’s inhabitants, was also referring to rural landowners, whose property rights would be severely affected by the sweeping nature of his proposal.

Not surprisingly, the creation of “wildlife corridors,” which would substantially expand Washington’s administrative power over rural communities, is supported by a bevy of environmental groups.  They include the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies, Freedom to Roam, the Society for Conservation Biology, the World Wildlife Fund, the Wildlife Alliance, the National Parks Conservation Association, Defenders of Wildlife, the Wildlife Society, the Wildlife Conservation Society, the Sierra Club, the Humane Society, Conservation Northwest, American Wildlands, the Yellowstone to Yukon Conservation Initiative, the Center for Large Landscape Conservation, and the Western Environmental Law Center.