A Victory for Public Lands, Conservation and Bipartisanship
By signing the John D. Dingell Jr. Conservation, Management and Recreation Act, President Donald Trump has affirmed the importance of public lands, conservation and outdoor recreation. He has also guaranteed the permanent reauthorization of the Land and Water Conservation Fund.
“The Land and Water Conservation Fund is America’s most beloved land conservation program – and for good reason,” said Tracy Stone-Manning, associate vice-president for public lands at the National Wildlife Federation. “This law ends the uncertainty around the program and ensures it will endure for generations to come. This milestone ironically coincides with the release of the administration’s budget, which shows the president is not putting his money where his mouth is. He recommended just $8 million for land purchase — a pittance of what is needed to provide public access and protect our resources.”
The Land and Water Conservation Fund uses fees from offshore oil drilling to fund habitat protection and outdoor recreation projects in virtually every county in America. Annually, those royalties total more than $900 million — all of which are supposed to be used for land and water conservation.
“The next step is to make sure Congress fully funds the Land and Water Conservation Fund in the future,” said Stone-Manning. “For too long, money has been siphoned away for pet projects, leaving conservation and recreation plans under-funded. That practice must stop.”
In addition to the Land and Water Conservation Fund, the Act includes more than 100 individual bills that benefit every state in the country. It designates more than 1.3 million acres of wilderness, protects 400 miles of river and creates four new national monuments. It also prevents mining in 30,000 acres adjacent to the Yellowstone River in Montana.
The bill passed both the House and Senate last month by overwhelming margins. “The broad bipartisan support of this bill shows that protecting natural resources is a cause that unites Americans from all walks of life and political stripes,” said Stone-Manning.
The bill was named in honor of former Congressman John Dingell who died last month. The Michigan Democrat was a lifelong outdoorsman and sponsored many of the nation’s landmark conservation bills during his 59 years in Congress.
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