Conservation Wins on Spending, Wildfire Disaster Funding and Public Lands in Omnibus

Conservation Wins on Spending, Wildfire Disaster Funding and Public Lands in Omnibus

21 March 2018

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USA – ARLINGTON, VA.  – The Nature Conservancy released the following statement from Co-Chief External Affairs Officer Lynn Scarlett regarding the FY2018 omnibus spending bill, which was released by Congress today and will likely receive a vote later this week:

“The spending bill released by Congress today is more than just a positive step—it is a jump forward for conservation. If enacted, this bill would achieve some of the most pressing conservation goals by providing both resources and processes needed to conserve American lands and waters for future generations. We greatly appreciate the bipartisan cooperation and persistence of congressional leaders who made this possible through their work over many years.

“The comprehensive solution to the wildfire funding problem included in the bill is a tremendous victory. It would mean we will no longer have to pay to fight increasing wildfire disasters out of the very same budgets that could have instead gone toward making forests healthier and less prone to these extreme wildfires in the first place. This is a huge improvement that will mean millions more in funding every year for the important restoration and conservation work of the Forest Service and Department of the Interior on national forests and other public lands.

“Overall, spending for conservation programs across the board were improved from prior levels, and significantly higher than what the Administration had proposed. This includes $425 million for the Land and Water Conservation Fund, an increase of $25 million.

“The bill also includes a beneficial and broadly supported public lands measure to reauthorize the Federal Land Transaction Facilitation Act, which expired in 2011. This program allows proceeds from the sale of Bureau of Land Management (BLM) land identified for disposal to fund higher-priority land acquisition in conservation areas, national parks, national wildlife refuges and on national forests. This strategic approach reduces administrative costs to the BLM and generates funding to protect other lands.

“Just as important as what is in the bill is what is not. Several provisions that would have undermined environmental protections were fortunately not in this omnibus bill, and we’re grateful Congress omitted these controversial measures.

“We hope Congress will approve this bill, and that this positive movement will generate momentum for similar bipartisan conservation priorities. Renewing the Land and Water Conservation Fund before it expires in September and ensuring healthy funding for conservation programs in the Farm Bill are two important and timely next steps.”

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