U.S. Senate Approves Legislation to Permanently Fund the Nation’s Most Important Tool for Conservation
The promise made nearly six decades ago to permanently protect forests in the United States is within close reach of being fulfilled, thanks to the decision by the U.S. Senate today to approve the Great American Outdoors Act.
The legislation would double, to $900 million annually, the size of the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) – the nation’s most important tool for conservation and providing people with access to public land.
The funding would be used by governments to buy land from willing sellers. Most of this land would be open to the public to use for hiking, biking, fishing and more.
The funding also would support the Forest Legacy Program, the only federal program for protecting privately-owned forests through conservation easements or land purchases. The easements, which are voluntary, allow landowners to harvest timber but not develop their land.
Landowners willing to do this are out there. But the funding to meet this demand has not been available. LWCF has been shortchanged by more than $22 billion since it was created in 1965.
The Great American Outdoors Act would fully and permanently fund LWCF. The bill was introduced in the House last week and is expected to be voted on this summer. President Trump has publicly stated that he will sign the legislation.