More than a million acres of public land are at risk for development after a popular federal conservation program expired Wednesday when the U.S. Congress failed to reauthorize the 50-year-old Land and Water Conservation Fund.
Utah Republican Congressman Rob Bishop chairs the House Natural Resources Committee. He says in a press release that he moved to kill the program because most of the $300 million goes to federal projects instead of local and state governments. Without the fund, outdoor groups say national parks like Grand Teton can’t buy private lands inside their boundaries, and local parks and bike trails lacks money for development.
Jessica Goad with the conservation advocacy group the Center for Western Priorities says the program has bipartisan support.
“There’s a lot of disappointment about this program that has been around and successful for 50 years, that expired last night. But at the same time I think there’s a lot of hope that we can get it re-authorized. There’s been a lot of champions in Congress right now who are really fighting for this, what we’re calling America’s most important parks program.”
Goad says Congress could still re-authorize the Land and Water Conservation Fund.