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Congress Sends President Public Lands Package Honoring John D. Dingell

Washington, DC, March 5, 2019

 – Today, Congress sent the President a package of bills to protect and conserve public lands to be signed into law. The John D. Dingell, Jr. Conservation, Management and Recreation Act promotes conservation, recreation, historic preservation, and cultural resource protection in Michigan and across the country.

The package of bills includes a permanent authorization of the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) which is the country’s premier program to conserve public land and improve outdoor recreation. Also included in the package are designations for 1.3 million acres of new wilderness, protections for a million acres of public lands from mining, and measures to save taxpayers $9 million. A summary of the John D. Dingell, Jr. Conservation, Management and Recreation Act is available here.

"This landmark public lands legislation is the product of years’ of work and months of bipartisan, bicameral negotiations, and includes support from key conservation, sportsmen, and environmental stakeholders. The provisions in this bill will safeguard our nation’s conservation legacy for decades to come,” said Dingell. “John Dingell’s entire life was driven by his love of hunting and fishing, and his passion for the outdoors, protecting our natural resources, and addressing the challenges faced ensuring we conserve America’s wild plants, fish, animals, and their habitats. Had he ever been hired as a full-time park ranger as a young man, he might never have run for Congress.”

“He would be particularly happy that the LWCF has finally been permanently authorized. Almost twenty years ago he started fighting for this with his friends Don Young, George Miller, Billy Tauzin, and Chris John,” Dingell continued. “LWCF funding has protected some of this country’s most treasured natural resources, while creating jobs, supporting local economies, and providing countless opportunities for recreation. Since 1965, LWCF has provided over $3.9 billion for over 40,000 projects in every county across the country with every $1 invested returning $4 in economic value. This has benefited every Congressional District, county and state in the country. Preserving our beautiful and iconic places matter to us all—and was the reason for initially establishing LWCF in the beginning.”

“John Dingell is looking down on everyone today and saying well done.”

A photo of Congressional leaders signing the bill at an enrollment ceremony is available here. An archived live-stream is available here.

Under this bill, the MotorCities National Heritage Area will see an authorization increase of $2 million.

In Michigan, LWCF has already invested more than $329 million to protect forests, wildlife refuges, lakeshores and to increase recreation access. t public lands, historic sites, and increase recreational opportunities. From backcountry trails and boat launches to rivers and community parks, LWCF has protected places like Detroit River International Wildlife Refuge, Hiawatha National Forest, Keweenaw National Historical Park, North Country National Scenic Trail, Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, Pilgrim River Forest, and Sleepy Hollow State Park.

LWCF – which has funded 42,000 projects across the country, bringing tremendous economic benefits and returns on investment since it was established in 1965 – has expired twice in recent years. Today’s bill reauthorizing the law removes it from future political consideration and prevents any future expirations.

Among other measures, the bill will impact the country in the following ways.

Recreation

  • authorize the Every Kid Outdoors Act for seven years, providing every fourth-grader in the U.S. free access to public lands; and
  • include a bipartisan sportsmen’s package designed to enhance access for hunting, fishing, and other recreation activities on public lands and waters.

Conservation and Job Training

  • expand protections under the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act to over 370,000 riparian acres, including segments along the Lower Farmington, Salmon Brook, Wood-Pawcatuck, and Nashua rivers in New England;
  • expand the Ocmulgee National Monument in Georgia;
  • designate several new National Heritage Areas in Arizona, Washington, and West Virginia; and
  • establish the 21st Century Civilian Conservation Corps to increase job training opportunities for youth, veterans, and Native Americans on public and tribal lands.

Habitats

  • reauthorize the Fish and Wildlife Partners program, which would give assistance to private land owners for restoring, enhancing and managing their land to improve fish and wildlife habitats;
  • reauthorize the Multinational Species Conservation Fund, which makes targeted investments to protect African elephants, Asian elephants, great apes, marine turtles, tigers, and rhinos; and
  • establishes prize competitions for innovative approaches to wildlife conservation, invasive species control, and poaching and trafficking issues.

Public Lands

  • designate more than 1 million acres of wilderness on federal land in California, Oregon, Utah, and New Mexico;
  • add five new national recreation areas;
  • expand Joshua Tree National Park, Death Valley National Park and Mojave National Preserve; and
  • cut off new mining activities in areas north of Yellowstone National Park and outside North Cascades National Park.

African American History

  • protect the home of Medgar and Myrlie Evers, passionate advocates for justice and equity during the Civil Rights Movement;
  • expand the Reconstruction Era National Monument into a National Historic Park;
  • create a Reconstruction Era National Historic Network to coordinate historical preservation and education efforts;
  • reauthorize the Historically Black Colleges and Universities Historic Preservation Program.

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