Manchin Announces More Than $6 Million Investment In Land And Water Conservation Projects In West Virginia
Investments made possible by Senator Manchin’s historic Great American Outdoors Act
Washington, DC – Today, U.S. Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV), Chairman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, announced the USDA Forest Service will invest $6,050,000 million this year to fund projects in West Virginia to conserve critical forest and wetland habitat, support rural economic recovery, and increase public access to national forests and grasslands from the funding provided by Senator Manchin’s historic Great American Outdoors Act. This funding was secured when the Great American Outdoors Act was enacted last year, which provided full and mandatory annual funding of $900 million for the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) in perpetuity.
Leveraging the LWCF funding provided by Congress, this investment will improve public access to Federal lands by funding strategic land acquisitions. Funds will also support work with state agencies to enable private forest landowners to keep their land in forests through conservation easements.
“This significant investment in West Virginia forests is fantastic news for our entire state. For the last 55 years, the LWCF has been the primary conservation tool helping provide West Virginians access for hunting, fishing, and recreational use of public lands. I thank Secretary Vilsack for his strong commitment to implementing my bipartisan Great American Outdoors Act and ensuring LWCF funds are quickly distributed so our public land management agencies can continue their legacy of conservation and growing opportunities for outdoor recreation. I look forward to continuing to work closely together to ensure the wild and wonderful corners of West Virginia are protected for generations to come,” said Senator Manchin, Chairman of the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources.
The Forest Service administers two LWCF programs: the Forest Legacy Program and the Land Acquisition Program. Together, these programs conserve critical and strategic lands across the nation’s forests on both private and public lands. In West Virginia, the Forest Service will fund one project under the Forest Legacy Program and fund multiple Land Acquisition Program projects, including projects for recreation access and other needs.
Awards listed below:
- Forest Legacy Program – South Fork Lost River – $2,100,000
- Land Acquisition Program – Monongahela National Forest – $2,180,000
- Land Acquisition Program – George Washington and Jefferson National Forest – $1,770,000
The Forest Service has been administering LWCF projects since 1964 along with the Department of the Interior. The fund supports Forest Service-led conservation projects including acquisition of critical non-federal lands within the boundaries of national forests and grasslands. Now, with full and permanent funding through the Dingell Act and the Great American Outdoors Act, the Forest Service is poised to strengthen its conservation program and provide greater recreation access to national forests and grasslands.
The agency worked with partners, considered multiple criteria and used established competitive processes to select projects for fiscal year 2021. During the review, the agency evaluated the environmental, social, and economic benefits of proposed projects and whether they contributed to other conservation initiatives. The Forest Service also considered local recreation access needs, the level of local support for strategic land acquisitions and how likely it would be for project areas to be converted to non-forest uses.
For more information on the Great American Outdoors Act and related projects, visit www.fs.usda.gov/managing-land/gaoa.
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