The U.S. Senate has approved of a $109 billion bill that provides two years of funding for transportation and transit projects around the country.
The bill may or may not be taken up by the U.S. House Representatives depending on if they choose to write a separate House bill, but hopefully what will be left out of any final version is an amendment by Montana U.S. Sen. Max Baucus. His amendment funds the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) to the tune of $1.4 billion for fiscal years 2013 and 2014 — quite a jump from the $323 million it is currently receiving in FY 2012.
Why does the LWCF need such a boost from Congress?
This Fund helps purchase and protects lands across the country. Evidently the line of thinking within the Senate is more U.S. lands are in need of being purchased and protected by the federal government.
The federal government owns almost 650 million acres of land in the U.S. That’s about 30 percent of all the land area in the nation and includes national parks, forests and wildlife refuges. In other words, it’s equivalent to 1 out of every 3 acres in the U.S. — 1 out of every 2 acres in the West, says Congressman Rob Bishop (R-UT), a member on the Natural Resources Committee and ranking member on the Subcommittee on National Parks, Forests and Public Lands.
And now the Senate thinks the government needs even more land.
Chuck Cushman, executive director of the American Land Rights Association located in Washington State, has dedicated his life to stopping federal land grabs and limiting trust funds such as the LWCF. He says this big boost of funds from the Senate endangers all land owners in or near federally protected lands.
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