WASHINGTON, D.C. — The National Wildlife Federation heralded the U.S. Senate’s vote today to permanently reauthorize the Land and Water Conservation Fund. The fund was part of a large public lands package that also created more than a million acres of new wilderness and conservation areas in the western United States.
“The Land and Water Conservation Fund has been America’s most successful conservation program, providing money for parks, wildlife habitat, hiking trails and numerous other outdoor spaces in nearly every county in America,” said Tracy Stone-Manning, associate vice president of public lands for the National Wildlife Federation. “The Senate’s vote to permanently reauthorize the fund is an important, hard-fought and overdue victory for parks and wildlife habitat across America. We now look forward to quick approval in the House of Representatives.”
The Land and Water Conservation Fund uses fees from offshore oil and gas revenues — at no cost to taxpayers — to invest in urban parks, walking and biking trails, wildlife habitat, historic sites, national parks and other open spaces. Congressional inaction last fall meant the fund lapsed, putting hundreds of projects at risk across the country. Permanent reauthorization is a critical first step to ensure the work of the Land and Water Conservation Fund will continue to support recreation and wildlife spaces for future generations. The next — and vital — step is for Congress to fully fund the Land and Water Conservation Fund instead of continuing the long-standing practice of siphoning off money for other programs. Americans overwhelmingly support this vital conservation program, as evidenced by a poll commissioned by the National Wildlife Federation last year.
In addition to permanent reauthorization of the Land and Water Conservation Fund, the National Wildlife Federation commended the Senate for provisions in the public lands bill which designate new wilderness areas in New Mexico, Utah and California. The bill also protects 30,000 acres adjacent to the Yellowstone River in Montana from mining and conserves 100,000 acres of the Umpqua watershed in Oregon, one of the most important areas in the Pacific Northwest for salmon and steelhead trout.
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