February 13, 2019

Manchin: Land and Water Fund Reauthorization Good For W.Va | The Wheeling Intelligencer

WASHINGTON — The Senate on Wednesday approved a major public lands bill that revives a popular conservation program, adds 1.3 million acres of new wilderness, expands several national parks and creates five new national monuments.

The measure, the largest public lands bill considered by Congress in a decade, combines more than 100 separate bills that designate more than 350 miles of river as wild and scenic, add 2,600 miles of new federal trails and create nearly 700,000 acres of new recreation and conservation areas. The bill also withdraws 370,000 acres in Montana and Washington state from mineral development. The Senate approved the bill, 92-8, sending it to the House.

Lawmakers from both parties said the bill’s most important provision was to permanently reauthorize the federal Land and Water Conservation Fund, which supports conservation and outdoor recreation projects across the country. The program expired last fall after Congress could not agree on language to extend it.

Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., ranking member of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, secured the permanent reauthorization.

“West Virginia has a rich cultural history and at the core of that is our deep appreciation for the natural wonders we are blessed with,” Manchin said. “Our little state is as wild as it is wonderful and we take great pride in our access to the great outdoors. 

“I’m proud to have worked with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to finally permanently reauthorize LWCF so our land management agencies can operate fully and without the fear of losing access to the funding they rely on. The Appalachian Forest Heritage Area is a treasure in Randolph County and this national designation is long overdue.”

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. 

In West Virginia, LWCF funded the acquisitions of the Gauley River National Recreation Area, New River Gorge National River and Dolly Sods. Since 1965, more than $243 million in LWCF funds have been spent in West Virginia on more than 500 projects, both on state and federal lands. This includes improvements to local parks and public spaces in 54 of West Virginia’s 55 counties. 

The bill creates three new national monuments to be administered by the National Park Service and two others overseen by the Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management, respectively. 

The three park service monuments are the Medgar and Myrlie Evers Home National Monument in Mississippi and the Mill Springs and Camp Nelson national monuments in Kentucky.

The bill also designates the former Saint Francis Dam site in California as a national memorial and monument. 

The dam outside Los Angeles collapsed in 1928, killing 431 people in one of the largest tragedies in California history.

The bill also sets aside 850 acres in central Utah as the Jurassic National Monument, designed to enhance the area’s “paleontological, scientific, educational and recreational resources.”


By:  Staff Writers