Originally published on January 3, 2019 2:01 pm
On Thursday, Democrats take back control of the House. Among several priorities is reviving a popular bipartisan conservation program that’s been dead for months.
For more than 50 years, the Land and Water Conservation Fund used royalties from offshore oil and gas drilling to help buy up land and protect it.
But Congress failed to reauthorize the program last September.
Under control of the Democrats, the House Natural Resources Committee will debate a bill to revive the program.
“We just ran out of time in the 115th Congress,” says John Gale, the Conservation Director for Backcountry Hunters and Anglers.
In the past the program and its funding sunsets every few years and has to be re-introduced. Gale’s group would like the new legislation to authorize things permanently.
“So we can continue to take advantage of all these great projects that come up, which ultimately generate greater efficiencies for the way we manage our public lands, which reduce costs over time,” he says.
The Land and Water Conservation Fund has protected 2.7 million acres and funded more than 40,000 projects across every state.
According to a coalition of environmental advocates, the Land and Water Conservation Fund has doled out hundreds of millions of dollars to states in our region:
- Colorado: $268 million
- Idaho: $279 million
- Utah: $186 million
- Wyoming: $122 million
This story was produced by the Mountain West News Bureau, a collaboration between Wyoming Public Media, Boise State Public Radio in Idaho, KUER in Salt Lake City and KRCC and KUNC in Colorado.
Copyright 2019 Boise State Public Radio
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