Yesterday, the U.S. Senate voted 99 to 1 on a procedural vote to begin considering a public lands package that includes permanent reauthorization of the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF), as well as a permanent ban on new mining claims north of Yellowstone National Park. A final vote on S.47, the Natural Resources Management Act, could come as early as today or tomorrow. Western Values Project is calling on the Senate to permanently reauthorize the LWCF.
“It’s shameful that the LWCF has languished for this long. Each day it’s expired, our public lands, public access and parks, and the communities that rely on these special places are hurting,” said Chris Saeger, Executive Director of Western Values Project. “Now that it has taken the first step, it’s long past time for the Senate to do its job and get this public lands package passed so we can bring our nation’s bedrock conservation program back to life.”
The bipartisan LWCF is over half a century old and has successfully funded 41,000 conservation and land projects at the federal, state and regional levels, and protected over 2.3 million acres of forests, all at zero cost to taxpayers. The LWCF expired last year when it failed to receive reauthorization by its September 30th deadline. The Senate was ready to renew the LWCF in December, but notorious anti-public lands Senator Mike Lee blocked the bill at the eleventh hour.
Renewing the LWCF would be a welcome relief for our public lands. The program has lost an estimated $317 million in funding for public lands, public access, and parks since Congress failed to reauthorize it in September.