Conservation Wins With New Land Package
In late February, the U.S. House of Representatives passed sweeping legislation that would permanently reauthorize the successful Land and Water Conservation Fund and that would protect over one million acres of environmentally valuable lands. The measure, which has already passed the U.S. Senate, is expected to be signed by President Trump.
Since its creation in 1964, the Land and Water Conservation Fund has been a proven success, having conserved more than 5 million acres and having supported more than 41,000 state and local park projects. Its permanent reauthorization means that generations to come can benefit from the LWCF’s efforts.
Moreover, by preserving more than one million acres of important lands, this legislation will help reverse the unfortunate trend that more than 6,000 acres of open space are lost to development daily.
The public lands package, passed with bipartisan support, has been praised by lawmakers and environmentally-focused groups such as:
- Senate Committee On Energy And Natural Resources Chairwoman Lisa Murkowski: “Both chambers are now on record in strong support of this package of lands, water management, sportsmen, and conservation measures. It took us years of bipartisan, bicameral work to reach this point, and I am hopeful the president will sign it into law very soon.” (Senator Lisa Murkowski, “‘Magnificent’ Public Lands Package Heads To The President’s Desk,” Press Release, 2/27/19)
- House Natural Resources Committee Chairman Raúl Grijalva: “This bill represents Congress at its best and truly gives the American people something to be excited about. It’s a massive win for the present and future of American conservation.” (Rep. Raúl Grijalva, “Chair Grijalva Cheers Passage Of Historic Public Lands Package That Protects Our Environment, Boosts Our Economy And Conserves American History,” Press Release, 2/26/19)
- National Wildlife Federation President Colin O’Mara: “In an era when bipartisanship remains elusive, conservation is a rare issue that still brings Congress together. 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.” (National Wildlife Federation, “Public Lands Package, Land And Water Conservation Fund Reauthorization ‘A Historic Victory For Our Wildlife Heritage,’” Press Release, 2/26/19)
- The Trust For Public Lands President Diane Regas: “Today’s historic vote, following a 92-8 vote in the Senate, means that more people can have access to hiking trails, city parks and wild landscapes. Americans expect their public officials to work together, and today’s vote to give more people access to public lands is something we can all celebrate.” (The Trust For Public Land, “The Trust For Public Land On Historic Permanent Reauthorization Of LWCF,” Press Release, 2/26/19)
This important legislation underscores the role that the government can and should play in the protection of our country’s natural lands. However, it is essential that such efforts are supplemented by private investment. Why? On one hand, the fact that approximately 72 percent of America’s lands are privately owned necessitates the private sector take on a greater role in protection efforts. Additionally, government funding for conservation is dwindling. But perhaps, most importantly, encouraging private sector investment in conservation sets the example for future generations that taking care of our environment should be a priority.