WASHINGTON, D.C. — Interior Secretary David Bernhardt’s secretarial order for implementation of the Land and Water Conservation Fund is a giant step backward for America’s most successful and popular conservation program. It puts unwieldy restrictions on federal agencies and their use of conservation funds, in direct violation of the intent of the Great American Outdoors Act.
“The Land and Water Conservation Fund is America’s best and most beloved conservation program and it is unacceptable that the administration is trying to cripple it,” said Tracy Stone-Manning, associate vice president for public lands at the National Wildlife Federation. “This is yet another example of how this administration has tried to thwart conservation at every turn. We look forward to working with a new Secretary of the Interior to fix this order so the conservation program can reach its full potential, as intended by the overwhelming bipartisan majority in Congress which voted for its permanent funding just a few months ago.”
The Land and Water Conservation Fund was permanently and fully funded when Congress passed the Great American Outdoors Act this summer. The program is responsible for funding parks, hiking and biking trails, hunting access, and so much more in nearly every county in the nation.
The secretarial order puts numerous restrictions on how the conservation money can be spent, including giving governors and local government veto power on the spending of federal dollars, subverting the process of Congress and local communities to determine which high priority projects should receive funding. Congress should now finish its work on budget planning for fiscal year 2021 for the Land and Water Conservation Fund without regard to the Department of Interior’s attempt to cripple this popular program.
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