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PNS Daily Newscast -August 16, 2018 


Trump responds to a critic by revoking the security clearance of a former CIA director. Also on the Thursday rundown: farm groups urge speedy passage of the Farm Bill; and newspapers nationwide publish editorials denouncing anti-press rhetoric.

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Groups Call for Making Conservation Fund Permanent

Money from the Land and Water Conservation Fund helped create the Cherry Valley National Wildlife Refuge in Monroe County. (National Fish and Wildlife Service/Flickr)
Money from the Land and Water Conservation Fund helped create the Cherry Valley National Wildlife Refuge in Monroe County. (National Fish and Wildlife Service/Flickr)
August 10, 2018

HARRISBURG, Pa. – Environmental groups are concerned that a long-standing conservation program that has benefited every state could expire next month.

The Land and Water Conservation Fund is funded entirely by revenue from offshore oil leases. The 50-year-old program has supported everything from national parks and forests to hiking trails and swimming pools in virtually every county in the nation.

Ed Perry, Pennsylvanian outreach coordinator for the National Wildlife Federation, calls it "the best conservation program the public has never heard of."

"Here in Pennsylvania, we've been especially blessed,” says Perry. “With matching grants from the fund, the state has funded over 1,500 projects throughout Pennsylvania."

Though initially authorized for two 25-year periods, in 2015 Congress reauthorized the Land and Water Conservation Fund for only three years. Without action, it could expire on September 30th of this year.

Tracy Stone-Manning, the National Wildlife Federation's associate vice president for public lands, says the program has bipartisan support, and her organization wants Congress to come up with a long-term solution.

"We would like a permanent reauthorization of this program,” says Stone-Manning, “so that future generations can be assured that the funds will be there for future park purchases, and to ensure that as our population grows, our open spaces and protected places can grow with it."

Pennsylvania alone has received about $315 million over the past 50 years from the Land and Water Conservation Fund.

Perry believes that, beyond reauthorizing the fund, Congress needs to ensure that the funds are not diverted from their original purpose.

"The most important thing is that we have a guaranteed funding source to fulfill the mandate of the fund,” says Perry, “which was to preserve, create and ensure access to outdoor recreation facilities to strengthen the health of all Americans."

He notes that while the fund has been authorized to receive up to $900 million a year, Congress often uses much of that money for other purposes.

Andrea Sears, Public News Service - PA