Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Big conservation and historic-sites bill passes Senate 92-8

"The Senate on Tuesday passed the most sweeping conservation legislation in a decade, protecting millions of acres of land and hundreds of miles of wild rivers across the country and establishing four new national monuments honoring heroes including Civil War soldiers and a civil rights icon," Juliet Eilperin and Dino Grandoni report for The Washington Post.

The measure enjoyed broad bipartisan support, passing 92-8, and is expected to pass the House after the mid-February recess. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell pointed out, "It touches every state, features the input of a wide coalition of our colleagues, and has earned the support of a broad, diverse coalition of many advocates for public lands, economic development and conservation."

The bill designates 1.3 million acres as wilderness, bans mining on more than 370,000 acres around Yellowstone National Park in Montana and the Methow Headwaters in Washington, and permanently funnels offshore drilling revenue into the Land and Water Conservation Fund, which it reauthorizes. The Congressional Budget Office projects that the bill would save taxpayers $9 million.

The bill creates five new national monuments: St. Francis Dam Disaster in California, Jurassic in Utah, the home of civil-rights leaders Medgar and Myrlie Evers in Mississippi, and the Mill Springs Battlefield and Camp Nelson, both Civil War sites in Kentucky. (President Trump made Camp Nelson, where black troops were recruited and trained, a national monument last year.) The bill significantly expands five national parks: Death Valley and Joshua Tree in California, and Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield, Ocmulgee Mounds and Fort Frederica in Georgia.

"The bill reauthorizes and funds the Neotropical Migratory Bird Conservation Act through 2022, which provides habitat protection for more than 380 bird species, and codifies a signature program of President Barack Obama’s," the Post reports. "The Every Kid Outdoors Act, allows U.S. fourth-graders and their families to visit national parks free."

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