March 23, 2018

Conservation And Public Lands Victories In Long-Awaited Spending Bill

Media Statement by Larry Selzer, President and CEO, The Conservation Fund 

“The Fiscal Year 2018 omnibus spending bill secures several critical conservation victories. We congratulate the bipartisan lawmakers and conservation partners who have worked to achieve these successes—culminating years of hard work and partnership—that will protect our public lands, increase recreational opportunities, preserve historic places, strengthen local communities and boost the outdoor economy.

“By permanently reestablishing the Federal Land Transaction Facilitation Act (FLTFA), the U.S. Congress is bringing back a common-sense and broadly supported solution that makes conservation work for America. This western ‘modified land exchange’ tool is being reinstated after expiring in 2011, allowing proceeds from the sale of Bureau of Land Management lands to once again be used for high-priority public land acquisitions in our national parks, forests, trails, wildlife refuges and other conservation areas. The Conservation Fund has been a proud leader of the coalition of over 190 groups that supports FLTFA reauthorization, because it benefits both local economies and the environment in the West. FLTFA helps consolidate the public-private land checkerboard and advances community, conservation and recreation needs. This is a remarkable effort that will make a big impact for the West.

“The bill includes a long-sought, comprehensive wildfire funding fix that will provide sufficient funding to combat wildfires without sacrificing funding for conservation and restoration programs. Starting in FY 2020, for eight years, it will put an end to ‘robbing Peter to pay Paul.’ Now the U.S. Forest Service and the Department of the Interior can stop raiding non-fire accounts and can tap a disaster fund for wildfires—similar to that for other natural disasters like floods and hurricanes—when they run out of congressionally-appropriated wildfire funds. This budget fix also puts an end to wildfire funding’s ever-increasing domination of agencies’ budgets at the expense of other priorities, including the very work that can help prevent wildfires from occurring. This is a significant victory that will increase funding for important conservation work nationwide on public lands.

“The funding levels for FY 2018 will provide a much-needed investment for recreation, wildlife habitat and other conservation needs on our public and private lands. From the USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service programs that support working farms, ranches and forests to the Department of Defense’s efforts to protect buffer lands around military installations, this spending bill gets it right.

“The bill allocates $425 million from offshore oil and gas royalties to the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF), a $25 million increase over last year’s level. The widely popular LWCF supports five separate grant programs, including for state and local park investments and state priorities for species protection. It is also the key funding source for purchasing private lands located within America’s prized national parks, forests, refuges and other public lands. We look forward to working with Congress and the Administration to reauthorize this premier conservation program before it expires in September.

“The Conservation Fund calls for continued bipartisan efforts in Congress to advance our most pressing conservation priorities. We specifically want to thank the following House and Senate leaders: House Speaker Paul Ryan, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, House Appropriations Committee Chairman Rodney Frelinghuysen and Ranking Member Nita Lowey, House Interior Appropriations Subcommittee Chairman Ken Calvert and Ranking Member Betty McCollum, Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Thad Cochran and Vice Chairman Patrick Leahy, Senate Interior Appropriations Subcommittee Chairman Lisa Murkowski and Ranking Member Tom Udall, House Natural Resources Committee Chairman Rob Bishop and Ranking Member Raúl Grijalva, and Senate Energy and Natural Resources Chairman Lisa Murkowski and Ranking Member Maria Cantwell.”

About The Conservation Fund
At The Conservation Fund, we make conservation work for America. By creating solutions that make environmental and economic sense, we are redefining conservation to demonstrate its essential role in our future prosperity. Top-ranked for efficiency and effectiveness, we have worked in all 50 states since 1985 to protect nearly eight million acres of land.

Ann Simonelli | The Conservation Fund | 703-908-5809 |