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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: November 10, 2020 

WASHINGTON, DC — This morning, the Department of the Interior published a list of projects it intends to allocate with the Land and Water Conservation Fund’s support. The list comes a week after the deadline, which the Trump administration inexplicably missed.

As per the guidance laid out in the Dingell Act of 2019 and the Great American Outdoors Act of 2020, the Department of the Interior was required to publish a list of allocations for the full and permanent funding of the Land and Water Conservation Fund by November 2, 2020.

Phil Francis, Chair of the Coalition to Protect America’s National Parks, explained:

“By large, bipartisan margins, Congress voted to pass the Great American Outdoors Act and fully fund the highly popular Land and Water Conservation Fund. But not only did the Trump Administration and Department of the Interior fail to produce their LWCF allocations and project lists on time; their lists are absolutely inadequate and violate the intent of the Great American Outdoors Act and the Dingell Act.

“Full funding for the LWCF was supposed to mean improvements to and better access to parks, hiking trails, hunting and fishing access, recreational facilities and the great outdoors, benefiting communities across the nation. Instead, the Administration’s proposal cuts the list of projects at our National Parks and Wildlife Refuges, and entirely eliminates federal public land protection through the Bureau of Land Management.

“Make no mistake, Congress was clear and explicit about what it wanted from the Department of Interior –  specifically calling for 40% of LWCF funds to go to federal land protection. This did not happen and to add insult to injury, this list includes $120M for the Forest Legacy Program under ‘Federal Land Grants’ — but Forest Legacy grants go to states and have always been counted as state grants. This is a clear attempt to fudge the math, since including that $120M gets the federal land portion to exactly 40%. Without it, it’s only 27%.

“The projects listed have nowhere near the level of detail required by Congress and are a slap in the face to the many bipartisan supporters of the GAOA who have been hailing it as an historic conservation achievement. This is utterly unacceptable and demonstrates bad faith on the part of not only Secretary Bernhardt but President Trump, who signed this bill into law.

“We encourage Congress to make sure the intent of the law is followed by ensuring the federal side of LWCF is wholly funded.”

Last week, the Coalition to Protect America’s National Parks submitted a FOIA request for  the National Park Service list(s) of properties to be purchased using the Land and Water Conservation Fund for FY 2021 and beyond.

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