Sen. Jeff Bingaman (D-NM), joined by Sen. Max Baucus (D-MT) as an original co-sponsor, today introduced legislation (S. 2747) to fully fund the program which protects lands with significant natural, recreational and scenic attributes. The program, the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LCWF), has been authorized at $900 million a year since 1977. Over the years, the program has protected more than 5 million acres of land and water across the country, including such special places as Arizona’s Grand Canyon, California’s Redwood Forest, Montana’s Rocky Mountain Front and Alaska’s Denali National Park.
Under current law, monies to protect these landscapes cannot be spent until they are appropriated. And Congress has rarely appropriated the $900 million that is authorized annually. As a result, the levels of funding for both federal and state agencies have fluctuated wildly over the years. In Bingaman’s view, the LWCF needs consistent and predictable funding in order to be truly effective. The Land and Water Conservation Authorization and Funding Act of 2009 seeks to do just that.
Said Bingaman: “Protecting special places and landscapes for the common good has always been a great American idea that we have exported to the rest of the world. By protecting natural systems, we’re protecting human health as well as the economy by providing clean water, clean air, livable coastal areas and the quality of life that is so important to all Americans.”
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