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U.S. Senate reauthorizes Land and Water Conservation Fund

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A group of visitors admiring Lion Geyser in Yellowstone National Park. Natural features like this in parks around the nation will remain pristine with steadfast conservation efforts. PHOTO COURTESY NPS

BY TIM BEHUNIAK EBS CONTRIBUTER  

In a 92-8 vote on Feb. 13, the U.S. Senate passed the Natural Resources Management Act, a public lands package that includes the Land and Water Conservation Fund.

According to LCWF’s website, the fund was, “created in Congress in 1964 to safeguard natural areas, water resources and our cultural heritage, and to provide recreation opportunities to all Americans,” using revenues from offshore oil and gas drilling as support.

Many of Bozeman’s city parks and land access projects across the nation are direct beneficiaries of the fund, yet in September 2018, the fund expired and was not renewed by the current administration.

In a statement on the Senate floor, Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Ala., said, “This package contains huge wins for Americans. It also expands and enhances access for our sportsmen and women on federal lands for hunting, fishing and other outdoor activities.”

If the House approves the nearly 700-page bill for President Trump’s signature, other conservation efforts, such as the Yellowstone Gateway Protection Act, will go into action.  

The Yellowstone Gateway Protection Act, which saw bipartisan backing in the Montana House and Senate with Republican Rep. Greg Gianforte, Republican Sen. Steve Daines, and Democrat Sen. Jon Tester supporting the act, would ban proposed mining projects in the Paradise Valley north of Yellowstone by permanently eliminating 30,000 acres of land from mining consideration.

Montana’s Park County Environmental Council executive director Michelle Uberuaga said, “We were able to set aside personal politics, stand shoulder to shoulder, and work to safeguard the headwaters of the Yellowstone River, our public lands, our wildlife, people and jobs that depend on clean water and open lands in our community.”

The Natural Resources Management Act is expected to pass through the House without any significant amendments and without a Presidential veto.

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