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Congressional Hearing on Replacing Land and Water Conservation Fund

A replacement for the Land and Water Conservation Fund is being debated in Congress today. Credit: pharmshot/iStock
A replacement for the Land and Water Conservation Fund is being debated in Congress today. Credit: pharmshot/iStock
November 18, 2015

WASHINGTON D.C. - A replacement for the Land and Water Conservation Fund is being debated today at a hearing in Washington, D.C., before the U.S. House Committee on Natural Resources.

The proposed Protecting America's Recreation and Conservation Act (PARC) still would use royalties from oil and gas exploration to fund land acquisition and recreation projects, but on a much smaller scale, and the program would end after seven years.

John Gale, conservation director for the nonprofit group Backcountry Hunters and Anglers, says the PARC Act basically dismantles a successful program that had wide bipartisan support.

"Every single state has benefited from LWCF dollars, whether that's to pay for local parks, baseball fields – or in the West, we have tremendous landscapes that have been protected for fish and wildlife habitat, for recreational access like hunting and fishing," says Gale.

Congressional Republicans blocked the reauthorization of the decades-old Land and Water Conservation Fund at the end of September.

The PARC Act would set aside 20 percent of the revenues to retrain oil and gas workers as the economy converts to clean energy. Gale says conservation money should not be siphoned off for that purpose.

"We think the time is now to reauthorize the Land and Water Conservation Fund as it exists now and then fully fund it," he says.

If nothing is done, the monies that were once set aside for conservation will simply be returned to the Treasury Department's general fund.

Suzanne Potter, Public News Service - WY