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Tester, Daines push for full funding of conservation fund

 

September 19, 2019



Note: This information came from the offices of Sens. Jon Tester and Steve Daines

Montana’s U.S. senators joined eight other senators in sending a bipartisan letter to congressional leadership calling for full, permanent funding of the Land and Water Conservation Act.

Sens. Jon Tester, D-Mont., and Steve Daines, R-Mont., along with Sens. Tom Udall, D-N.M., Cory Gardner, R-Colo., Joe Manchin III, D-W.Va., Richard Burr, R-N.C., Michael Bennett, D-Colo., and Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif. and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif.

The lawmakers sending the letter called this a “historic opportunity” to reach the landmark conservation program’s full potential to expand access to public lands for future generations.

“This investment would protect and conserve our national parks and public lands, support the nation’s $887 billion outdoor recreation economy, and finally fulfill the original promise of the LWCF,” the senators wrote. “The time has come to match permanent authorization with permanent funding—as envisioned in 1964 — to ensure much-needed investment in our public lands and continuity for the state, tribal, and non-federal partners who depend on them. We strongly urge Congressional leaders to seize the historic opportunity and enact legislation to accomplish this longstanding priority in the 116th Congress.”

Established in 1964, the LWCF is a critical conservation tool that uses revenues from oil and gas leasing to fund conservation and recreation priorities across the nation. Congress permanently reauthorized the program this year, but it has yet to be funded at an acceptable level. President Donald Trump proposed cutting the LWCF budget by 98 percent this spring, and the House Interior and Environment Appropriations Subcommittee set its funding at just $524 million last spring — less than two-thirds of the $900 million LWCF is authorized at.

Since its creation, the LWCF has invested more than $540 million in Montana’s $7.1 billion outdoor recreation economy. Tester successfully fought to secure $425 million in funding for the LWCF in the March 2018 budget bill after the Trump Administration pushed to gut the program, and he was the only member of Montana’s delegation to vote for that funding. He then secured an additional $10 million in LWCF funding in the February appropriations package, bringing the total to $435 million for 2019.

Tester originally introduced the Land and Water Conservation Authorization and Funding Act in 2009 to permanently reauthorize and fully fund the critical conservation initiative and has reintroduced it every Congress since.

Daines has been pushing for authorization and funding of LWCF.

Daines secured a $10 million increase Feb. 14 for LWCF, bringing funding for the program to $435 million for 2019.

He joined President Trump in the White House March 12 for the signing of a historic bipartisan lands package which included the permanent reauthorization of the Land and Water Conservation Fund he and Tester sponsored, and Tester’s Yellowstone Gateway Protection Act. 

Tester originally introduced the Land and Water Conservation Authorization and Funding Act in 2009 to permanently reauthorize and fully fund the critical conservation initiative and has reintroduced it every Congress since.

 

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