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TRAILS LEGISLATION IN CONGRESS

States will get LWCF funds for local projects in FY 00-01

While efforts continue to pass legislation that will fully fund the Land And Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) at its authorized level of $900 million annually, some funding for state projects trickles in. For FY 2000 a $40 million appropriation will allow states to fund trail and park development as well as open space acquisition.

A total of $464 million was authorized for all LWCF projects, an increase of 35% over 1999. Most of the funds go to big federal projects such as land acquisition in the Mojave desert and New Mexico, and for Everglades restoration. Small federal projects in nearly every state are also funded.

For more information: National Recreation and Park Association (202) 887-0290.

Efforts continue to fund LWCF in 2001 at $2.8 billion

From the Committee on Resources, U.S. House of Representatives

More than 300 Members of Congress-- two thirds of the House of Representatives-- joined House Resources Committee Chairman Don Young (R-AK) and ranking Democrat, Representative George Miller (D-CA), in cosponsoring the Conservation and Reinvestment Act (CARA, H.R. 701). The $2.8 billion bipartisan conservation package was officially reported out of the House Resources Committee February 16.

CARA is a compromise between Rep. Young's and Rep. Miller's original bills. Their cooperation makes the plan to dedicate $2.8 billion in permanent funding every year to the Land and Water Conservation Fund a bipartisan effort.

As we move to get a CARA vote on the House floor, the next major hurdle immediately ahead is securing a place for the package in the federal budget. Time is of the essence, as a budget resolution could hit the House floor as early as mid-March.

"This is an overwhelming sign of support for our efforts to fund conservation programs benefiting our land, wildlife, and parks and our goal of creating new recreational opportunities in all 50 states," said Rep. Young.

"I know a winner when I see one," said Rep. Miller. "This bill redeems our promise to the American people by providing permanent funding to protect parks, forests, recreation, open spaces and marine resources for generations to come."

There is also growing support for LWCF funding on the Senate side. On Feb. 29 a new Senate bill that mirrors H.R. 701 was introduced by Sen. Frank Murkowski (R-AK), Chairman of U.S. Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee; Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-LA); Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott (R-MS); Sen. John Breaux (D-LA); and Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA). The new Senate bill, S. 2123, was introduced as the companion bill to H.R. 701.

For more information: Tom St. Hilaire of Americans for Heritage and Recreation at tsthilaire@ahrinfo.org

Roadless area proposals meet with mixed reactions

The President directed the Forest Service to permanently ban road construction in non-Wilderness inventoried roadless areas of 5,000 acres or more on Forest Service land. He has also requested that the Forest Service consider permanent roadless designation for areas between 1,000 and 5,000 acres that are contiguous to protected unroaded areas of 5,000 acres or more.

The agency has until September, 2000, to draft a new road policy and develop new analytical tools. Forest Service Chief Mike Dombeck said that "This proposal addresses how to maintain our existing road network in an environmentally and financially responsible way.''

The proposal has met with a wide range of reactions which fall along predictable lines. Hiking groups and environmental activists have applauded the move, while motorized recreation groups oppose it. Bicyclists and some equestrians are also dubious, fearing loss of roads that currently provided non-motorized recreation as well as forest access.

A 60-day public comment period began March 3, 2000. Comments may be sent by mail to USDA Forest Service, CAET, Attn. Roads, P.O. Box 22300, Salt Lake City, UT 84122, by fax to (801) 517-1021, or by e-mail to roads/wo_caet-slc@fs.fed.us. For more information on the proposed road management policy, go to www.fs.fed.us/news/roads.

 

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