White House requests $2.8 billion for parks, conservation projects
The Biden administration is proposing $2.8 billion for the departments of Interior and Agriculture to fund national park programs and conservation projects across the country, the agencies announced Thursday.
The proposed funding for fiscal 2022 represents the maximum allowed under the bipartisan Great American Outdoor Act, which former President Trump signed in August.
The law included $900 million a year for the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) as well as up to $1.9 billion annually for national park maintenance for five years.
“One of the best investments we can make is in stewarding the lands and waters that sustain us and the generations to come. Today we are making critical investments that will create tens of thousands of jobs, safeguard the environment, and help ensure that national parks and public lands are ready to meet the challenges of climate change and increased visitation,” Interior Secretary Deb Haaland said in a statement.
“Deferred maintenance means a backlog of much-needed repairs and improvements throughout our managed lands,” she added. “In particular, I am encouraged that funding for Bureau of Indian Education schools will help ensure that we are providing a safe and reliable space where students and educators alike can focus on learning.”
The administration has announced it will take on more than 500 maintenance projects under the Public Land Legacy Restoration fund, including 63 under the Interior Department and 484 under the National Forest Service. The departments estimated the projects would together support more than 20,000 jobs.
Tom Cors, director of government relations for lands at The Nature Conservancy and a spokesperson for the LWCF Coalition, praised the administration’s proposals.
“The LWCF Coalition appreciates the historic investments President Biden is proposing for LWCF, protecting special places from Minnesota’s Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness to neighborhood parks in cities like Cleveland, to Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming and the High Peaks of Maine,” Cors said in a statement. “We look forward to working with the administration to maximize LWCF’s role in helping meet the president’s ambitious conservation and recreation goals, addressing the climate and nature crisis and creating more equitable access to the outdoors.”
The move follows Interior’s announcement last month that $150 million would be made available in grants to local communities under the LWCF-funded Outdoor Recreation Legacy Partnership grant program, which provides funds to create outdoor recreation spaces in urban areas.