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There’s a lot going on in Washington: keep your eye on these three public lands issues

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Update, September 18: Last week, the House Committee on Natural Resources approved a bill that would permanently reauthorize the Land and Water Conservation Fund. It's a big step in the right direction, but that doesn't mean we can let up our fight: the bill must pass the House and Senate and be signed by the president before LWCF expires on September 30! Keep reading to find out how you can help.

With all the buzz about upcoming midterm elections, it’s easy to miss the fact that our public lands are at a turning point. But decisions made in in Washington, DC, in the coming months could impact the places you and your family go to camp, hike, fish, and explore.

Our legislative experts are closely monitoring conservation and public lands developments—and doing everything they can to keep key policies on track. Here are the top three issues to watch this fall.

The Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF)

The Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) is the budgetary lifeblood for parks and open space in the United States. The program has directly benefited more than 45,000 project sites in all 50 states: just this year it’s helping us conserve land on the Appalachian Trail and reinvigorate a community park in Washington state. But today, America’s most important conservation program is at risk: Congress must act to reauthorize LWCF, or it will expire on September 30.

LWCF is helping us save tens of thousands of acres along the Appalachian Trail, protecting the backcountry feel of America's most famous long-distance trail.Photo credit: Jerry and Marcy Monkman

In late July, the House approved the 2019 Interior and Environment appropriations bill. During debate, Representative Andy Biggs proposed an amendment reducing certain LWCF funding. The Trust for Public Land and other LWCF supporters jumped into action, contacting key House offices to urge a “No” vote, and the Biggs amendment was defeated 172-237. More than 50 Republicans joined Democrats in the most resounding and bipartisan vote of confidence for LWCF this Congress has yet expressed—but it’s not enough to guarantee the survival of this critical program.

We’ve been in this position before. When LWCF was set to expire in 2015, we led the charge to reauthorize the program and secured a three-year extension. Since then, we’ve been working nonstop to rally bipartisan support, and our results so far are promising. Many members of Congress, Republicans and Democrats alike, have cosigned a bill that would permanently reauthorize LWCF. The Senate version of the bill has dozens of co-signers, reflecting the program’s popularity among the American public.

You can help: sign the petition urging Congress to permanently reauthorize and fully fund LWCF.

The Antiquities Act

The Antiquities Act grants the president the authority to protect outstanding natural, historical, and cultural resources. It’s been used to safeguard some of the country’s best-loved landscapes, including some—such as Arizona’s Grand Canyon and Washington’s Olympic Mountains—that eventually became national parks.

The San Gabriel Mountains National Monument is Los Angeles's wild backyard. We're helping conserve land here, where 15 million people live within 90 minutes of a trailhead.Photo credit: Darcy Kiefel

But in December 2017, the federal government announced it would shrink four national monuments: Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante in Utah, Cascade-Siskyou in California and Oregon, and Gold Butte in Nevada. This decision, currently being challenged in court, is an unprecedented and deeply unpopular attack on national monuments—and it undermines the Antiquities Act itself. 

That’s why we’re working with legislators to rally support for the Antiquities Act of 2018, S.B. 2354. Introduced by Senator Tom Udall, this bill—and its companion in the House, introduced by Representative Michelle Grisham—stipulates that national monuments could only be altered through an act of Congress. 

We’re meeting with legislators to discuss the importance of protecting our national monuments and strengthening the Antiquities Act and urge them to support Udall’s and Grisham’s bills. You can help by calling or writing to your elected officials to do the same.

Farm Bill

Despite the name, the Farm Bill is about much more than farms: it’s a massive piece of legislation containing policies on trade, nutrition, jobs and infrastructure, agricultural research, forestry, and energy. Few other bills have as much impact on conservation across the United States. The Farm Bill comes up for debate every five years or so, and the current bill expires—like LWCF—on September 30.

We rely on the Farm Bill to help small timber towns protect jobs, drinking water, and recreation opportunities in community-owned forests. The bill has also helped us conserve hundreds of thousands of acres of working farms and ranches through the Agricultural Conservation Easement Program (ACEP). But these popular and effective programs are by no means secure: just last year, Congress slashed ACEP’s funding in half.

The Farm Bill supports programs that help rural towns own and manage their working forests, so timber profits stay local, water stays clean, and the land stays open for exploration. Photo credit: Jerry and Marcy Monkman

This spring, we organized a group of volunteers to visit Capitol Hill and help bring lawmakers up to speed on the Farm Bill’s importance to conservation. As the deadline for renewal nears, now is the time to contact your representatives and speak up for these key programs.

 

Never contacted your representative before? Check out our quick tips on writing a letter to your elected officials. And take it from our legislative expert, Britni Rillera: “Just a tiny fraction of citizens will ever take the time to do it, so one letter can speak as loudly as thousands of votes.”

Comments

Gretchen sullivan
Please do not spoil any more land, water, air and animals, birds, flowers, schools, libraries. I am sad and discouraged every day since that man was elected. He needs to be in prison.
Ginny Griffin
Keeping our public lands available for generations to come is of utmost importance.
Lauren Inzano
Please stop threatening public lands, this land belongs to you and me.
Gene O. Graham,MD
Reserve,preserve,conserve,serve, and observe:<)
vonnie donahue
Please do not spoil any more land, water, air and animals, birds, flowers, schools, libraries. I am sad and discouraged every day since that man was elected. He needs to be in prison.
Susan Haebig
There are good reasons why protections of our land, health, and the environment are in place. Let's keep them this way.
Joyce Z
You can't bring back the dead; so, this is why we need to protect and respect what we have.
Linda M. Sorens...
We need to protect all the Public Lands. No oil drilling or mining in these pristine areas. The Public Lands belong to all Americans and to all the wildlife that live there. No selling any of our Public lands either.
nancy morgan
Leave our public lands alone for now and for the future. Find another way to pass your time and entertain yourselves. I do not agree with the comments above as I feel he has done some great things. However, he must learn to put money endeavors aside and concentrate on really important issues such as land conservation, environmental concerns and he must become compassionate about caring for our tame and wild animals and totally protecting them for future generations. His lack of caring in these areas makes him inhumane and disgusting to those of us who care. We need to wake him up NOW.
Gloria Alvarado
STOP STOP STOP This disgusting lying man call Trump send him flying out of our dear white house.
Sharon Kehoe
Public Land belongs to the public. We should have a say.....and I say protect it from the ravages of corporate greed.
Anthony Barkovich
As the population grows and metropolitan areas expand, pollution, noise and ugly, monstrous apartment complexes increase while rivers and lakes become polluted and wildlife (plants and animals) disappear. The future is not improved by construction of huge cars and mansions, while polluting the earth and killing wildlife. Preserve public lands, where nature can continue to thrive!
Nita Holley
I hope we never see another president, Administration, and Congress that is intent on destroying everything we hold near and dear. These parks, lands, monuments, waterways, forests, flowers, fish, birds, animals, and wildlife belong to us the people and our descendants. Once they're gone, we can never get them back. No one will experience the spectacular beauty, majesty, and astounding nature of our nation.
Jean Johnston
There is no more compromise when it comes to protecting our land. If we keep destroying our land, we will destroy ourselves. NO MORE!
Edward McCormick
Preserve our natural resources for the benefit of my granddaughters who deserve out trust!!!
Eugene Lentzner
It is very important to save our national parks from being destroyed by commercial firms whose only interest is their financial gain.
Courtenay Smith
Once these precious areas are plundered they are gone forever. With the current thinking that may be much sooner then we think. It would be sensible to be passing bills that protect the forrests and wild places instead of despoiling them for temperary benefits.
Norvelle Couch
Save our public lands. One reason our country is so great is because of our public lands and parks. Leave these resources for our children and my great grandson. He will forever be in the greatest spot in our natural resources and parks.
Lydia
Please stop them. Don't let them destroy our beautiful forest and animals.
s smith
The earth...and every state, creature, person... on it can no longer be pushed aside for the sake of "profit", and "jobs", for that matter. There is much to be cultivated by pursuing alternative energy, clean air, water and wild places. It can, and must happen now.
Leslie McClure
Those who live only for themselves (like the unindicted co-conspirator, illegitimate president who squats in the people's house) will soon become aware that they will also suffer, along with all life on Earth, if they don't protect our climate and the species that depend on it!
Annette Ahlander
I will keep all of these issues on my radar scope - keenly.
Susan Pernot
Please do not violate any more land, water, air and animals, birds, flowers, schools, libraries and post offices. These things are an important part of daily living.I am sad and discouraged every day since that man was elected. He needs to be in prison.
S. Smith
Public lands belong to the people, it's a crime that president Trump and his Republican criminals are planning to steal it out from under the people and give it to corporations to destroy.
Karen Phillips
Public land is just that: PUBLIC. It belongs to the hundreds of millions of us Americans, NOT to this corrupt administration, and it was NOT set aside to now be used by a few corporations owned by rich, greedy people to destroy forever with mining, drilling, pipelines, railways and trucks hauling oil and gas, large-scale timbering, and whatever other destructive uses it might be put to. This rolling back and needless, willful destruction of more than a century’s worth of legislation designed by far-seeing people to protect our land MUST not happen against the wishes of the populace. The current administration and our Congress — supposedly elected to represent the will of the people — are not listening to the vast majority of us and must be voted out before the entire country is destroyed!
Dottie Hammel
Please do not change or diminish the existing space for our natural resources in any way. the land and all its inhabitants is the legacy we much protector ll to experience now and in the future. these treasures are irreplaceable.
Hellen Hoffman
When, oh when, will the assault on our rivers, lakes, monuments, parks, tribal lands and natural treasures stop? We are destroying our planet, polluting the air we breathe and the water we drink. We need to Vote, Vote and take back our country.
Polly Richman
This flawed farm bill needs to be completely reworked. Not only does it contain provisions that are harmful to many farmers, but it will harm the environment and take food out of the mouths of hungry Americans. Go back to the drawing board.
Diane Grohn
Save America the Beautiful! Keep the air, water and soil clean!
Patricia Melina
Please do not spoil any more land, water, air and animals, birds, floers, schools, libraries. I am sad and discouraged every day since that man was elected. He needs to be in prison.
Sharon Rumley
Please vote to protect our public land for generations to come!!
Deborah dorf
What will we have left? The future is in green energy it this beautiful earth God gave us survives this hideous assault. Value is more than monetary. I just wonder what wi!! Be left because there's no getting it back once it's gone.
Barton Winter
I agree that we should seek to continue the Land and Water Conservation Fund. It is important that we seek to make all of our public lands accessible to the public. Remember that these lands that contain wilderness qualities are set aside for the use and enjoyment of the american people. They represent elements of our heritage. But remember however that quality of our country is dependent upon all the various aspects of our laws, economy and our inherent and implied qualities as a christian nation. We need to seek to preserve not only our lands but also the quality of our moral and ethical decisions.
Julia bray
Please stop selling off & destroying what’s left of our public lands. There will be no going back to restoration if mining, drilling for oil, & fracking are allowed in our national parks & public lands. We should be stewards for our next generations & think long term. Destroying these lands is short sighted, irresponsible & placing greed above our children’s welfare. Thank you.
Marla Swanson
I love what Julia Bray stated; Please stop selling off & destroying what’s left of our public lands. There will be no going back to restoration if mining, drilling for oil, & fracking are allowed in our national parks & public lands. We should be stewards for our next generations & think long term. Destroying these lands is short sighted, irresponsible & placing greed above our children’s welfare. I'll add we must think of the common good and put aside the almost religious attitude that individual rights supersede what is right and good for all. Often the individual thinks just of him/herself.

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