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Senate Punts On Reauthorizing Land, Water And Conservation Fund

The South Fork River near Henry's Fork in Idaho is one area that was protected through the Land, Water and Conservation Fund.
The South Fork River near Henry's Fork in Idaho is one area that was protected through the Land, Water and Conservation Fund.

The fate of an important but little-known conservation fund is still uncertain after a vote in the Senate Thursday.The 50-year-oldLand, Water and Conservation Fund is afederal program that uses royalties from oil and gas leases to protect forest, water and wildlife areas. Typically, that means buying up land and then setting it aside for conservation.

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The program is set to sunset this fall, so without action from Congress the LWCF could go away. A bipartisan group had proposed reauthorizing it through a rider attached to a spending bill for the Department of Interior. But senators ultimately decided not to go that route. 

Craig Gehrke is with the Wilderness Society in Idaho. He says that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

“It should be its own special bill,” Gehrke says. “You know, we think that funding the reauthorization should be a formal piece of legislation that’s debated on its own special merits.” 

Gehrke wants the funding for the Land Water and Conservation Fund to be permanent, instead of requiring reauthorization every few years as it does now.

“We need committed funding for a longer period of time,” Gehrke says. “Congress too often just kicks this can down the road.” 

No tax dollars are used to fund the program. 

Find reporter Amanda Peacher on Twitter @amandapeacher.

Copyright 2018 Boise State Public Radio

This story was produced by the Mountain West News Bureau, a collaboration between Wyoming Public Media, Boise State Public Radio in Idaho, Yellowstone Public Radio in Montana, KUER in Salt Lake City and KRCC and KUNC in Colorado.

Copyright 2021 Boise State Public Radio News. To see more, visit Boise State Public Radio News.

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