States, land managers still waiting for details on conservation funding under Great American Outdoors Act
Congress promises its own Land and Water Conservation Fund funding plan if Trump Administration federal land managers don’t provide specifics. “Apparently, they’ve already lost their interest in taking care of our public lands,” said Colorado’s Democratic U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet.
Funding details promised by the Great American Outdoors Act were due Nov. 2, but state and federal land managers are still waiting for specifics of what is supposed to be a record amount of money for the Land and Water Conservation Fund and deferred maintenance projects.
The Great American Outdoors Act — brokered in part by Colorado’s U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner and trumpeted by President Donald Trump as they both ran for re-election — directed the full $900 million a year to the LWCF, which uses royalties paid by energy companies to buy federal land for protection. And the legislation spread $9.5 billion over five years toward catching up on an estimated $21.6 billion in delayed upkeep on public lands. It also promised to more than double federal funding to several Western states that rely on LWCF support to acquire and protect public lands and access.
But fear is growing that the promises of the Great American Outdoors Act — which had bipartisan support this election year — were more about politics than public lands.
The deadline for the Department of Interior and Department of Agriculture’s Forest Service to submit its project lists for deferred maintenance and LWCF projects was last week. The agencies submitted lists for maintenance projects on time. But the LWCF lists arrived a week after the Nov. 2 deadline, following a Nov. 9 memo from the Trump Administration that delegated authority to the Interior and Agriculture departments to release the LWCF funding lists.
The broad-stroke lists have left state and federal land managers scratching their heads.
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