Photo Slideshow: U.S. Congress Passes Largest Public Lands Conservation Bill in a Decade

Congress has sent a bipartisan package of bills to President Trump’s desk that will permanently protect more than two million acres of U.S. public lands. The Natural Resources Management Act, which the president is expected to sign, will be the largest set of park, wilderness, and public land conservation measures to become law in a decade.

Here are a few of the remarkable areas afforded protections thanks to the U.S. Congress passing the largest conservation package in 10-years:

Of the more than two million acres receiving permanent protections, the legislation establishes nearly 1.3 million acres of new wilderness in Utah, New Mexico, Oregon, and California. It also protects nearly 500,000 acres of public land from future mining and oil drilling operations – including mineral-rich lands adjacent to Yellowstone National Park – while providing conservation status to another 500,000 acres of public land as Wild and Scenic Rivers, Special Management Areas, Recreation Areas, or other protections.

With news of the legislation passing Congress, Wyss Foundation President Molly McUsic said:

It is encouraging and inspiring to see Congress renew America’s long, bipartisan tradition of conserving lands, wildlife, and waters, bolstering rural economies, and guaranteeing public access to the outdoors for the enjoyment of all. This bill reflects years of work by communities across the country to save America’s most effective park program, the Land and Water Conservation Fund, and to protect the natural, cultural, and historic resources that should be handed down to future generations.

As we celebrate this conservation achievement, let us also recognize how much work there is yet to be done to protect wild places and wildlife that are disappearing in the United States and around the world. The bipartisan spirit behind this bill should be carried forward to protect other natural places and cultural resources around the country that are at-risk. If we build on the success of this bill and renew our proud conservation traditions, the United States can once again serve as a model for how other world leaders can help protect our planet’s natural wonders.

The public lands conservation package also permanently reauthorizes the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF), America’s most effective and important park and conservation funding program. The popular program, which had expired last year, provides a critical, non-tax source of funding to preserve and enhance public access for fishing, hunting, and hiking on America’s public lands and waters.

The legislation now awaits President Trump’s signature before becoming law.

Greg Zimmerman