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Source: United States House of Representatives – Congressman Joe Cunningham (SC-1)

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“Congress is on the verge of passing one of the most significance pieces of conservation legislation in decades,” said Rep. Joe Cunningham. “LWCF has enriched countless lives in the Lowcountry by protecting many of the places that make our community unique and irreplaceable, from the Folly Beach Boardwalk to Hunting Island State Park. It is an honor to lead the effort in the House to permanently fund LWCF and address the maintenance backlog across our national parks and public lands. I look forward to passing the Great American Outdoors Act next week and getting this bill signed into law.”

Washington Post: America’s great outdoors is showing its age. Congress is proposing a facelift.

By Darryl Fears and Dino Grandoni

July 14, 2020

Every 30 seconds in America, bulldozers pave over a green area the size of a football field. In the nation’s century-old parks system, there’s not enough money to fix crumbling roads, hiking trails and even restrooms, let alone preserve millions of acres of land.

The House is expected to approve a plan next week to invest nearly $2 billion per year to restore national parks, conserve land to ward off the impacts of climate change and put parks and playgrounds in urban areas that sorely need them.

The Great American Outdoors Act, passed overwhelmingly in the Senate by a 73-to-25 vote on June 17, has been called one of the most important environmental bills in history because it could nearly eliminate a $12 billion U.S. National Park Service maintenance backlog and fully fund the Land and Water Conservation Fund, or LWCF, for the first time since it was enacted in the 1960s.

“This is decades in the making,” said Rep. Joe Cunningham (D-S.C.), the lead sponsor. About 200 lawmakers have joined a bipartisan effort to support it. “That goes to the importance of it. It would enact permanent funding that has eluded a lot of people. We’re glad to bring it to a close and bring it across the finish line,” he said.

[…] President Trump, who earlier in the year proposed nearly eliminating funding from the Land and Water Conservation Fund, has already vowed to sign it.

[….] In the House, the bill has support from about 170 Democrats and 30 Republicans.

“We have so much bipartisan support — the Senate, the White House and now the House,” Cunningham said. “You don’t have to go far in your district to find a public space that has been created by the Land and Water Conservation Fund. Outdoor recreation, hunting and fishing. Everyone in South Carolina has benefited from this project.”

[…] The government’s cut of oil and gas revenue will provide $900 million over 10 years to the Land and Water Conservation Fund.

Those funds would support projects to restore coastal areas ravaged by impacts from climate change and sea-level rise. Coastal marshes that protect cities from storm water surge and flooding would be fortified and forest areas that soak up carbon dioxide would be preserved.

The U.S. Forest Service has used land and water conservation funds to filter, clean and store fresh water. It’s been used to protect the 15,000-acre Sterling Forest in New York with $17.5 million “to ensure clean drinking water for over 2 million residents of northern New Jersey,” according to the organization that administers the fund.

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