Press Release

Victory for public lands: Senate votes to renew vital conservation law and protect wilderness areas

In public lands victory, Senate approves vital conservation law and protection for millions of acres

WASHINGTON, February 7, 2019 ---- Today the Senate passed a bipartisan package of lands bills including legislation to permanently reauthorize the vital Land and Water Conservation Fund, which expired last September. The bill would also protect millions of acres of wild lands and codify the popular Every Kid in a Park program, which has provided free access to federal lands and waters for millions of fourth graders and their families.

Statement from Jamie Williams, president, The Wilderness Society:

“Today marks an overdue but critical victory for America’s most important conservation funding program and for protecting our wild lands. It’s encouraging to see the new Congress immediately moving bipartisan legislation that conserves our land and water for today and for future generations."

Created in 1964, the Land and Water Conservation Fund preserves public lands and ensures greater access to outdoor recreation sites that range from local ballfields to national parks, all at no cost to taxpayers.

The Fund is a key component in the nation’s healthy outdoor recreation economy, which generates more than $887 billion in annual consumer spending and supports 7.6 million American jobs. Despite this, Congress allowed the Fund to expire on September 30, 2018, casting current and future projects into uncertainty.

The lands package approved by the Senate today includes provisions to protect wild places in several states and improve access to public land. The bill designates new wilderness areas in Utah, New Mexico, Oregon and California, and permanently protects other ecologically critical lands in Montana and Washington State, described here. All told, the legislation protects more than 2.3 million acres of America’s public land. The bill includes the Every Kid Outdoors Act, which extends for seven years the "Every Kid in a Park" program for fourth grade students and their families.

CONTACTS:

Michael Reinemer, [email protected], 202-429-3949

Edit Ruano, [email protected], 530-305-9427 -- for resources on the newly protected lands in AZ, CA, CO, ID, NM, UT, WA.
 

The Wilderness Society is the leading conservation organization working to protect wilderness and inspire Americans to care for our wild places. Founded in 1935, and now with more than one million members and supporters, The Wilderness Society has led the effort to permanently protect 109 million acres of wilderness and to ensure sound management of our shared national lands. Visit www.wilderness.org.