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PNS Daily Newscast - March 27, 2020 


The U.S. now has more confirmed coronavirus cases than any other country. Despite the pandemic, Election 2020 continues and states are making changes.

2020Talks - March 27, 2020 


3.3 million people reported being jobless last week, according to new Labor Department numbers. And Puerto Rico was supposed to hold primaries this weekend, though they pushed it back to late April, because of COVID-19.

Senate to Vote on Full Funding for Land and Water Conservation Fund

Colorado has received more than $275 million in LWCF funding over the past five decades, protecting places such as Great Sand Dunes National Park, Canyon of the Ancients National Monument and Uncompahgre, Arapahoe-Roosevelt, Gunnison and Rio Grande national forests. (Pixabay)
Colorado has received more than $275 million in LWCF funding over the past five decades, protecting places such as Great Sand Dunes National Park, Canyon of the Ancients National Monument and Uncompahgre, Arapahoe-Roosevelt, Gunnison and Rio Grande national forests. (Pixabay)
November 11, 2019

DENVER – After winning permanent reauthorization for the Land and Water Conservation Fund, public lands advocates are pressing leaders in Congress to fully fund the program that taps offshore oil and gas royalties for conservation and recreation projects.

A Senate committee is set to vote on a permanent funding bill on Nov. 19, eight days after Veterans Day.

Mary Jo Brooks, public lands communications manager for the National Wildlife Federation, points out that veterans frequently turn to public lands for solace after serving in combat.

"And I can think of no better way to pay tribute to our veterans than by helping to fully fund a program that helps support these lands that they enjoy so much and that, frankly they've fought and put their lives on the line to protect," she states.

Some lawmakers who oppose a permanent funding bill say allocating money year-by-year provides more flexibility.

Brooks says the decision about where offshore oil and gas production fees should be invested was clear when the fund was established five decades ago.

"It was decided already, a long time ago, that the Land and Water Conservation Fund is entitled to $900 million dollars, and so that should just be money that is automatically allocated so that there can't be this political football of playing games with it," she stresses.

In March, Congress permanently reauthorized the program, but then the Trump administration proposed a budget that nearly zeroed out money for the parks and public lands fund.

And recent budgets by the House and Senate call for releasing just half of the $900 million available.

Brooks says Sens. Cory Gardner and Michael Bennet of Colorado have been strong supporters of the fund, but she maintains Gardner is in a better position to advance the measure as a member of the majority party in the Senate.

"The burden is on him to get this across the finish line and not only vote on it in committee next week, but to really make sure it gets a floor vote,” she stresses. “So we're really looking to Sen. Gardner to get this done."

Since the program began in 1964, Congress only has allocated full funding a handful of times, meaning some $22 billion meant to support America's public lands, parks and public access points have been diverted.

Disclosure: National Wildlife Federation contributes to our fund for reporting on Climate Change/Air Quality, Endangered Species & Wildlife, Energy Policy, Water. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.
Eric Galatas, Public News Service - CO