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PNS Daily News- February 15, 2019 


Shutdown averted and a national emergency declaration; A push in Iowa for virtual caucus attendance for 2020 primaries; and concerns about legislation that could hide oil pipeline records. Those stories and more in today’s news.

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Sunset for Conservation Program Draws Near

Land and Water Conservation Fund state assistance grants have supported hundreds of projects across Colorado, including Roxborough State Park. (Thomas Shahan/Wikimedia Commons)
Land and Water Conservation Fund state assistance grants have supported hundreds of projects across Colorado, including Roxborough State Park. (Thomas Shahan/Wikimedia Commons)
August 13, 2018

DENVER – The Land and Water Conservation Fund, financed by fees from offshore oil and gas production, will expire on Sept. 30 if Congress doesn't act.

Suzanne O'Neill, executive director of the Colorado Wildlife Federation, calls the fund one of the nation's best conservation programs that has been tapped to preserve wildlife habitat and open spaces, and to create parks and public access to outdoor recreation.

"Essentially, it's provided an investment stream into our outdoor recreation economy in Colorado,” she points out. “Over the years, we've received approximately $268 million from this fund."

According to the U.S. Census, each year more than two million people hunt, fish, or view wildlife in Colorado, activities that contribute $3 billion to the state's economy.

In addition to hundreds of park projects across Colorado, the program has helped protect places such as Great Sand Dunes National Park, Canyon of the Ancients National Monument and Uncompahgre, Arapaho-Roosevelt, Gunnison and Rio Grande national forests.

The Trump administration's proposed 2019 budget would eliminate the Land and Water Conservation Fund's budget.

Tracy Stone-Manning, associate vice president for public lands with the National Wildlife Federation, says if that budget is approved by Congress, no federal land conservation projects would be funded for America's national parks, forests and wildlife refuges, and other public lands.

"For the last 50 years, we have been creating these remarkable public places, from urban parks to protecting wildlife habitat, and we have an obligation now to the future to ensure that this incredible American conservation success story continues," she states.

U.S. Sens. Cory Gardner (R) and Michael Bennet (D) of Colorado, and Reps. Mike Coffman (R), Diana DeGette (D), Ed Perlmutter (D) and Jared Polis (D) support reauthorizing the program with permanent funding.

Reps. Ken Buck (R), Doug Lamborn (R) and Scott Tipton (R) have yet to co-sponsor legislation to reauthorize the program.

Eric Galatas, Public News Service - CO