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PNS Daily Newscast - December 7, 2018 


Democrat Dan McCready takes back his concession in the still-undecided race for Congress in North Carolina. Also, on the Friday rundown: California moves to provide Medi-Cal for undocumented immigrants, and tighter immigration enforcement might make it harder to find a Christmas tree.

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Conservation Fund that Helped Protect Timber Jobs Expires Soon

Clagstone Meadows in northern Idaho, owned by Stimson Lumber, was protected from development by the LWCF. (Kestrel Aerial Services/Idaho Dept. of Fish and Game)
Clagstone Meadows in northern Idaho, owned by Stimson Lumber, was protected from development by the LWCF. (Kestrel Aerial Services/Idaho Dept. of Fish and Game)
August 10, 2018

BOISE, Idaho – With less than two months before it sunsets, conservation groups are calling for permanent reauthorization of the Land and Water Conservation Fund – a program that has received bipartisan support in the past.

Idaho has received nearly $280 million since the LWCF was created more than 50 years ago. It has helped protect places as diverse as the Boise Foothills and Hell's Canyon.

But Brian Brooks, executive director of the Idaho Wildlife Federation, notes it has also funded facilities such as swimming pools and soccer fields, and even preserved timber jobs. He says through the Forest Legacy Program, the fund protected Stimson Lumber's timberland in northern Idaho from development.

"We were able to purchase the development rights of that area, so that the title of the land remained with Stimson Lumber,” says Brooks. “They could continue to sustainably log it and with that sustainable logging, they also allow access for the public."

The program is funded with royalties from offshore oil and gas drilling, meaning it isn't supported by general taxpayer dollars.

Idaho's senators approved the LWCF when it was last reauthorized in 2015. It's set to expire on Sept. 30.

Tracy Stone-Manning, associate vice president for public lands with the
National Wildlife Federation
, says the LWCF's ability to create public parks and protect wildlife habitat has made it one of the secret conservation success stories of the last half-century.

"This has been a quiet, incredibly successful program over the past 50 years,” says Stone-Manning. “America would be fundamentally a different place if we didn't have the Land and Water Conservation Fund."

Conservation groups also want to see the program fully funded. In most years, Congress raids the fund to spend on other projects.

Eric Tegethoff, Public News Service - ID