Washington, DC – Today, U.S. Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee Ranking Member Joe Manchin (D-WV) attended the White House’s Presidential bill-signing ceremony at which President Trump signed the John D. Dingell, Jr. Conservation, Management, and Recreation Act into law. The legislation, which permanently reauthorizes the Land and Water Conservation Fund, passed the U.S. Senate with a vote of 92-8 on February 12th and passed the U.S. House of Representatives with a vote of 363-62 on February 26th.
“I was proud to join Senator Murkowski and my colleagues at the White House today as President Trump signed the John D. Dingell, Jr. Conservation, Management, and Recreation Act into law. This legislation is an important reminder that when we work in a bipartisan way, the American people come out on top. This public lands bill permanently reauthorizes the Land and Water Conservation Fund, increases access to public lands for hunting, fishing and recreational shooting, and it significantly expands our recreation and conservation areas. West Virginians take great pride in our outdoor heritage and I’m especially proud we were able to finally designate the Appalachian Forest Heritage Area in 18 counties in West Virginia and Maryland as a National Heritage Area,” Senator Manchin said. “Roughly 47 million Americans hunt and fish every year which provides an economic benefit of more than of $201.4 billion per year and supports 1.5 million jobs. For West Virginians, our love of the great outdoors is a part of who we are and we take great pride in sharing that with our friends and neighbors. More than 350,000 hunters explore our woods every year. That sporting contributes almost $270 million to our economy and supports 5,000 jobs. This public lands bill expands our access to the lands we cherish and that is great news for West Virginia.”
LWCF is a conservation tool that ensures states and federal public land management agencies are able to protect and conserve our natural resources without relying on taxpayer dollars. The program puts royalties paid by energy companies drilling for oil and natural gas in the Outer Continental Shelf into a fund in the U.S. Treasury to be allocated to states and the Federal government for the purpose of protecting, conserving and improving our public spaces. Since 1965, about $19 billion of LWCF funds have been appropriated. LWCF expired in September 2018 after a brief 3-year extension in 2015.
The John D. Dingell, Jr. Conservation, Management, and Recreation Act also includes significant wins for America’s sportsmen and sportswomen. The legislation will increase access to federal lands for hunting and fishing, and includes a clear Congressional declaration for all federal departments and agencies to facilitate the expansion and enhancement of hunting, fishing and recreational shooting opportunities on federal lands. The bill establishes a national “open unless closed” standard for hunting and fishing on Bureau of Land Management and U.S. Forest Service lands, and it requires land management agencies to listen to local, public input before they can close any lands to hunting or shooting. The legislation authorizes two additional days to the current duck hunting season, specifically for veterans and youth.
The John D. Dingell, Jr. Conservation, Management, and Recreation Act also:
- Adds over 621 miles of rivers to the National Wild & Scenic Rivers System
- Adds over 2,600 miles of new trails to the National Trails System
- Designates 700,000 acres of new recreation and conservation areas
- Increases the size of our National Parks by over 42,000 acres
- Creates four new national monuments
- Provides direction to all federal departments and agencies to facilitate the expansion and enhancement of hunting, fishing and recreational shooting opportunities on federal lands