Prior this spring, President Trump signed a massive public lands bill which permanently reauthorized the Land and Water Conservation Fund. However, passing that bill didn’t really secure any real cash for LWCF, that fight would be battled later. Indeed, later is presently.
Trump’s initial budget has no financing for land securing. Rather, it uses LWCF cash to cover national park maintenance backlogs the nation over.
Fortunately, that arrangement is getting pushback from a bipartisan group in the House.
“To the extent we’re siphoning off these funds for other entirely different purposes, that’s really not appropriate,” Sen. Angus King (I-Maine) told The Hill.
The House has countered with a bill (H.R. 3195) that would give full financing of $900 million annually to the LWCF. The bipartisan bill was presented by House representatives Jeff Van Drew (D-N.J.) and Brian Fitzpatrick (R-Pa.). The Senate has a comparative bill (S. 1081) that would give full subsidizing to the LWCF while nixing the necessity that funds must be appropriated. The bill is co-sponsored by four GOP senators who are up for reelection in 2020—two of whom are Sen. Cory Gardner (Colo.) and Steve Daines (Mont.), as indicated by Politico
These two bills will see a lot of opposition. The Department of the Interior is contending that there isn’t a requirement for extra land procurement, particularly in states where huge tracts of public land as of now exist.
As per The Hill, Susan Combs, the Interior’s associate secretary for policy, says the Interior is committed to ensure national parks are safe to visit.
“We are the land stewards of the stuff we already own,” she says. Furthermore, not all lawmakers are energetic about ensured full financing and increasingly public land acquisitions.
“I’ve been skeptical of the need to acquire more, and I think many of my colleagues share that skepticism,” House representative Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) told The Hill. “I continue to hold the view that Congress should determine the appropriate level of funding for LWCF and how it should be allocated. We should look at it on a yearly basis, and determine its funding levels relative to all of our other needs and priorities.”
Despite the talk, the LWCF works when it’s appropriately financed. A report from the Government Accountability Office found that from 2014 to 2018, Congress appropriated $1.9 billion to the LWCF. About half of that cash went to federal land acquisitions; the other half went to state and local public lands and waters projects. From the financial year 2013 to 2017, LWCF cash was utilized to secure in excess of 850,000 acres of federal public land.
The Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership is calling on all sportsmen and ladies to sign a petition to Congress to completely fund LWCF.