Senate to Introduce Bipartisan Bill to Address Maintenance Backlogs, Fully Fund LWCF

News for Immediate Release
March 5, 2020
Contact: Katie McKalip, 406-240-9262, mckalip@backcountryhunters.org

Legislation responds to requests by sportsmen and women,
follows president’s statement expressing support

WASHINGTON – Bipartisan legislation to be introduced in the U.S. Senate will address maintenance backlogs on public lands managed by the National Park Service and ensure full, dedicated funding for the Land and Water Conservation Fund, advancing objectives long championed by Backcountry Hunters & Anglers.

Sens. Joe Manchin (D-WV), Cory Gardner (R-CO), Mark Warner (D-VA) and Steve Daines (R-MT) joined together to co-sponsor the bill, which will include full and dedicated funding for LWCF and $1.3 billion for the NPS maintenance backlog. On Tuesday, President Trump expressed support for legislation focused on achieving these objectives.

BHA, which has worked for years to address both the need to robustly fund public land management agencies and ensure full, dedicated funding for LWCF, the nation’s most effective public access and conservation program, commended the Senate co-sponsors for heeding the will of the American people.

“Time and time again, American citizens have loudly spoken up in support of funding for our public land management agencies and programs that conserve wildlife habitat and expand public access to great places to hunt, fish and enjoy the outdoors,” said BHA Conservation Director John Gale.

“In response, Senate leaders are discussing legislation that not only would address the National Park Service maintenance backlog but also would finally, once and for all, assure full, dedicated funding for the Land and Water Conservation Fund, the most popular and effective conservation and access program in the nation,” Gale continued. “We thank them for their efforts and look forward to helping advance a bill to the president’s desk.”

Following successful efforts by BHA and other partners to secure LWCF’s future and its permanent reauthorization, which was included in the public lands package S. 47 and signed into law a year ago, BHA has redoubled its work to ensure LWCF’s full and dedicated funding. Authorized at $900 million in funding annually, LWCF funds frequently are siphoned off during the federal appropriations process, with the program fully funded only twice over the course of its half-century-plus history.

“This coordinated effort by senators on both sides of the aisle confirms that conservation and access are inherently bipartisan values,” stated Gale. “Last year, Congress overwhelmingly passed legislation that secures the future of LWCF. Now we have the opportunity to ensure that federal land managers have the resources they need to responsively oversee critical lands and waters – and advance conservation and access projects that make our communities more livable, strengthen our economy and uphold our legacy of public lands, waters and wildlife.”

BHA stressed the importance of lawmakers including in the legislation other public land management agencies, such as the Bureau of Land Management, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and National Wildlife Refuge System, and U.S. Forest Service, to address ongoing deferred maintenance issues across the United States.

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