Senate approves over 1.3 million acres for conservation lands, rivers, national monuments
February 13, 2019
The US Senate voted 92-8 Tuesday to approve legislation setting aside nearly two million acres of public land for conservation—a bipartisan package of more than 100 public lands, natural resources and water bills.
The bill designates 1.3 million acres in western states with the most stringent classification of “wilderness,” prohibiting any development or motor vehicles. It sets aside hundreds of miles of rivers and trails for conservation. In addition, it expands national parks and creates five new national monuments: Medgar and Myrlie Evers Home National Monument in Mississippi, Mill Springs and Camp Nelson in Kentucky, Saint Francis Dam site in Los Angeles, and 850 acres in Utah as the Jurassic National Monument.
The bill includes the permanent reauthorization of the Land and Water Conservation Fund, which expired last fall before Congress could agree on new wording. The fund collects fees from oil and gas companies to pay for conservation programs along shorelines. Previously, the fund had to go through a reapproval process which left it vulnerable to lapse.
The bipartisan bill moves to the House of Representatives where it is expected to pass.