Congress passed a package of public lands bills that protects nearly 2.5 million acres of public land and 676 miles of rivers throughout the U.S. The legislation also reauthorizes the Land and Water Conservation Fund, an important conservation and recreation tool that expired late September 2018. The House passed the bill 363-62 and the Senate passed it two weeks ago 92-8. It now awaits the President’s signature.
“This is an historic conservation victory that preserves wild places throughout the United States, forever,” said John Sterling, Executive Director of The Conservation Alliance. “This package of conservation lands bills passed through a Congress best known for its discord, demonstrating that protected public lands are truly our common ground.”
The largest bill in the package preserves nearly one million acres in Emery County, Utah, including the iconic San Rafael Swell and surrounding lands.
“Arc’teryx USA is based in Ogden, Utah where we’re not used to celebrating public lands victories,” said Thad Kaczmarek, Regional Director for Arc’teryx and Conservation Alliance Board Advocacy Committee Member. “The Emery County Public Land Management Act is a huge win for our state. The San Rafael Swell boasts some of the most breathtaking recreation in Utah, including the iconic float through the Green River’s Labyrinth Canyon. Furthermore, the re-authorization of LWCF is a huge win not only for businesses who rely on all forms of outdoor recreation, but a huge win for hunters, anglers, and all manner of outdoor enthusiasts, which I am proud say I am one.”
Also included in the package are bills that designate Wilderness and expand National Parks in the California desert; protect Wilderness and Wild and Scenic rivers in Oregon; preserve Wilderness and rivers in New Mexico; protect the Washington’s Methow Valley and the gateway to Yellowstone National Park from mining.
“As a founding member of The Conservation Alliance, The North Face has for decades committed resources to protect iconic places like Utah’s red rock San Rafael Swell and the world-class climbing in California’s Alabama Hills,” said Eric Raymond, Senior Advocacy Manager at The North Face. “It’s fantastic to see these and other prized places permanently protected, for people.”
“I choose to live and work on the doorstep of Yellowstone National Park,” said Kate Ketschek, founder of Revolution House Media, member of The Conservation Alliance. “With other businesses leaders across Montana and the country, I have been working to defend paradise in Paradise Valley. Seeing Senator Tester’s Yellowstone Gateway Protection Act cross the finish line is incredible for this dynamic ecosystem and tourism driver.”
The bill also protects several landscapes and rivers in Oregon, ranging from the Rogue River watershed to the Devil’s Staircase Wilderness.
Additionally, the bill reauthorized the popular Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF), which expired on September 30 of last year. The LWCF collects royalties from oil drilling in the Gulf of Mexico to purchase land for recreation and conservation. LWCF funding has increased conservation and opportunities for outdoor recreation in nearly every county in the country.
In total, eight Conservation Alliance priorities crossed the finish line with the passage of the Natural Resources Management Act. Every conservation provision included in the legislation began at the local level where grassroots organizations led efforts to build public support to protect a special landscape or waterway. Over the course of 12 years The Conservation Alliance contributed $998,000 to 13 different organizations whose steadfast work ended up in this historic lands package.
Click here to view a summary of the conservation provisions in the bill.