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Public Lands Package, Land and Water Conservation Fund Reauthorization ‘A Historic Victory for Our Wildlife Heritage’

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The passage of a historic public lands package, which includes the permanent reauthorization of the Land and Water Conservation Fund, is a historic victory for conservation and our wildlife heritage, the National Wildlife Federation said today. The president should quickly sign this legislation into law to support the Land and Water Conservation Fund, numerous new public lands and habitat protections, and improved access for hunting and fishing.

“In an era when bipartisanship remains elusive, conservation is a rare issue that still brings Congress together,” said Collin O’Mara, president and CEO of the National Wildlife Federation. “Today’s passage of a bipartisan public lands package, including permanent reauthorization of the Land and Water Conservation Fund and numerous conservation measures, represents a historic victory for our wildlife heritage and outdoor enthusiasts of every stripe. We urge the president to sign this bill into law posthaste.”

“Permanent reauthorization of the Land and Water Conservation Fund is a historic win for public lands, outdoor heritage and conservation across the country,” said Camilla Simon, executive director of Hispanics Enjoying Camping, Hunting, and the Outdoors (HECHO). “Our public lands are the essence of our democracy — where all Americans have equal ownership and access regardless of cultural or socioeconomic backgrounds.” 

"We commend the House for joining the Senate to pass overwhelmingly the public lands package that includes permanent reauthorization of the Land and Water Conservation Fund,” said Suzanne O'Neill, executive director of the Colorado Wildlife Federation. “Colorado has received $268 million over the years from the Land and Water Conservation Fund to invest in our vibrant outdoor recreation economy. Now it is critical to gain full funding for the Land and Water Conservation Fund."

The public lands package, S.47, permanently reauthorized the Land and Water Conservation Fund, designates more than 1.3 million acres of Wilderness, protects nearly 400 miles of rivers and creates four new national monuments. It 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. It was the largest bill of its kind in more than a decade.

The public lands package also includes the WILD Act, reauthorizes the Marine Turtle Conservation Fund, the Partners for Fish and Wildlife program, establishes Theodore Roosevelt Genius Grants for solutions to pressing wildlife threats such as poaching and trafficking. The bill also improves invasive species control through amendments to the Fish and Wildlife Coordination Act.

The Land and Water Conservation Fund uses fees from offshore oil and gas revenues — at no cost to taxpayers — to invest in wildlife habitat and outdoor recreation areas.  Since its inception, the program has provided more than $18 billion to projects in every county in the nation. Congressional inaction last fall meant the fund expired, depriving conservation projects of more than $350 million.

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