Federal officials, lawmakers to tour to promote conservation fund

Interior Secretary Sally JewellSally JewellGOP chairmen propose sweeping federal land changes for Utah Interior chief headed to Utah amid divisions over proposed monument Obama weighs big Arctic decision MORE will join lawmakers and local officials to tour the country this week to promote the Land and Water Conservation Fund and push for its reauthorization.

The fund is coming up to its 50th anniversary in September, but only once has Congress authorized it to its full funding of $900 million. The fund uses a fee on offshore oil and gas drilling to fund wildlife, recreation and similar programs on public land.

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“President Johnson and a bipartisan Congress got it right when they established the Land and Water Conservation Fund, embracing the simple concept that when we take something from the earth — namely, oil and gas from public lands offshore — we should return something back to the earth by investing in our land, water and wildlife heritage,” Jewell said in a Monday statement.

Jewell’s tour will bring her to North Carolina, Indiana, New Mexico and Arizona to speak at facilities that have received money through the fund. Local officials or lawmakers will join her at each stop.

“The Land and Water Conservation Fund has made huge economic contributions to local communities in every state, helping to establish local parks, protect clean water sources and create jobs through outdoor recreation,” she said in her statement. “As we look to the next 50 years, we need to ensure that we continue this great legacy by fully and permanently funding this innovative program.”

This is Jewell’s second national tour to promote the fund in as many months. In July, she went to Texas, Alabama and Virginia, and some of her top deputies went to Oregon, Florida and Alaska as well.