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Public-Lands Bill in Congress Would Benefit NV Outdoor Recreation

Cave Lake State Park is among dozens of outdoor recreation spots in Nevada that have benefited from the Land and Water Conservation Fund. (N. Walters/Wikimedia Commons)
Cave Lake State Park is among dozens of outdoor recreation spots in Nevada that have benefited from the Land and Water Conservation Fund. (N. Walters/Wikimedia Commons)
February 22, 2019

CARSON CITY, Nev. - A program that has brought more than $100 million to Nevada parks and other outdoor destinations over the years comes up for permanent reauthorization in the U.S. House next week.

Congress let the Land and Water Conservation Fund lapse last fall but revived it in the Natural Resources Management Act, which recently passed the Senate on a 92-8 vote.

Tracy Stone-Manning, the National Wildlife Federation's vice president for public lands, said the country is ready to support this bipartisan bill.

"In a time when our country is so divided, this one issue - the ability to bring people together around public lands, around protection of our wildlife - has punched through as something that is so uniquely and beautifully American that it has brought the Senate together," she said, "and we're hoping it does the House as well."

The Land and Water Conservation Fund, which has been around since the 1960s, has funded hundreds of parks, pools, ballfields and outdoor-recreation areas in Nevada, including Valley of Fire, Cathedral Gorge and Cave Lake state parks and Big Bend of the Colorado State Recreation Area. According to the LWCF Coalition, Nevada's outdoor-recreation economy generates $12.6 billion a year and supports 87,000 jobs.

Land Tawney, president and CEO of Backcountry Hunters and Anglers, said he's optimistic that the House will pass the bill and the president will sign it. Then, he'd like to see it fully funded in the next budget.

"If this passes in the Senate, and hopefully in the House, we will have the number-one access tool in perpetuity," he said. "Then, we can start talking about funding and progress on the ground. But I think that's a huge win for not only hunters and anglers, but anybody that recreates outdoors."

The Land and Water Conservation Fund does not rely on taxpayer dollars, but on revenues from offshore oil and gas leases in federal waters.

Suzanne Potter, Public News Service - NV