Trump administration submits list of conservation projects after the deadline
The Trump administration on Monday submitted a list of projects that will receive funding under a conservation program — a week after it was due to Congress.
The projects will receive funding under the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF), which helps the federal government acquire new land for parks and trails and works to protect sensitive forest and endangered species habitat.
A bipartisan law that passed Aug. 4 provided $900 million annually for the LWCF and up to $1.9 billion annually for five years for a separate fund that attempts to address a maintenance backlog at National Parks.
The law, called the Great American Outdoors Act, gave the Trump administration 90 days to prepare two lists of projects that would receive money under each of the funds.
The Interior Department provided Congress with the parks maintenance backlog list on time, but submitted the LWCF list this week.
The new list came as the White House also on Monday formally delegated the responsibility to submit the list to the Interior and Agriculture departments and Interior Secretary David Bernhardt said in a letter accompanying the list that it was benign submitted “pursuant to the president’s delegation.”
Rep. Raúl Grijalva last week told The Hill in the statement that the LWCF list had been “missing,” saying that this was “somewhat perplexing and raises a lot of questions about this administration’s intent.”
Meanwhile, Rep. Garret Graves (R-La.), who opposed the Great American Outdoors Act, argued that this showed that the LWCF isn’t a real priority.
“If this truly were urgent, if this were a priority, then you would’ve had this list years ago. If you had this…huge priority of acquisitions, you could’ve produced this list at the drop of a hat,” he said in an interview Monday before The Hill obtained the LWCF project list.
“This is ridiculous that you’ve diverted money from one area for a purpose to land acquisition…that they don’t even have projects identified for,” he added. “You’re going to have greater federal spending picking up the pieces after than if we had directed the dollars toward proactive protection and just reaffirming the stupidity behind what was done here.”
The document submitted to Congress on Monday lists 20 Fish and Wildlife Service projects and 26 National Park Service projects that will receive LWCF funding. They’re located at places including part of the Everglades in Florida, the Cuyahoga Valley National Park in Ohio and the Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve in Alaska.
President Trump’s support for funding the LWCF was something of a reversal after he previously proposed significant cuts to the fund.
The Great American Outdoors Act was largely viewed as a win for several lawmakers who were seeking reelection including Sens. Cory Gardner (Colo.) and Steve Daines (Mont.), who both represent states with vast amounts of public land.
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