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Conservationists applaud lands protection initiative

The legislation also contains provisions to protect endangered species like the California condor   
February 25, 1999
Web posted at: 1:45 PM EST

Conservationists applauded an initiative introduced Tuesday that guarantees annual funding for the Land and Water Conservation Fund and other protections for public lands, wildlife and historical resources.

The Permanent Protection for America's Resources 2000 initiative was introduced by Representative George Miller, D-Calif., and Senator Barbara Boxer, D-Calif.

"Implementation of Permanent Protection for America's Resources 2000 would be a dream come true for conservationists," said Defenders of Wildlife President Rodger Schlickeisen, speaking at a Capitol Hill news conference Tuesday.

The $2.3 billion piece of legislation not only provides permanent funding for the Land and Water Conservation Fund, it also has provisions to protect public lands, help the recovery of endangered species, protect ocean fish and wildlife and boost urban recreation and native wildlife and plant conservation programs.

The Land and Water Conservation Fund was created by in 1964 by Congress to use $900 million in royalties from offshore oil and gas drilling to purchase key land, water and open-space resources for the public domain.

When it was passed, however, Congress required that money for the fund was subject to the annual appropriations process. This has resulted in the fund generally receiving only a fraction of its authorized level.

Boxer and Miller's legislation falls on the heels of other initiatives introduced to increase funding for conservation, including the Lands Legacy Initiative introduced by President Clinton. Clinton's proposal would provide full funding for the Land and Water Conservation Fund's federal funds in fiscal year 2000, but does not indicate funding for the program in future years.

"Unlike other proposals, Resources 2000 provides full, permanent funding for the fund, without the risk of encouraging offshore drilling and without placing arbitrary political restrictions on how funds may be spent," said William Chandler, vice president of the National Parks and Conservation Association.

"Permanent Protection for America's Resources 2000 is a bold initiative to protect our precious natural and cultural heritage and the quality of life for all Americans. As we approach the millennium we must pass this program as our generation's legacy for the future," said John Adams, president of the Natural Resources Defense Council.

Copyright 1999, Environmental News Network, All Rights Reserved

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