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Historic Conservation Funding Bill Passes Major Milestone


Wed Nov 10 00:00:00 MST 1999

The bipartisan Conservation and Reinvestment Act (CARA, H.R. 701) passed a major milestone in Washington, D.C. today when the U.S. House of Representatives' Resources Committee voted to forward this historic conservation legislation to the House floor for full consideration. The landmark legislation would provide wildlife, land, and parks conservation with the largest infusion of federal funds in history, $44 billion over the next 15 years, most of which will go to various state and local conservation programs, including state-level wildlife conservation.

"This vote could soon pay major dividends in Montana," said Pat Graham, Director of Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks. "It signifies a very serious and historic commitment to the conservation and restoration of our wildlife, lands, parks and cultural resources."

HR 701 would annually reinvest federal Outer Continental Shelf oil and gas revenue back into natural resources conservation, including the following programs:

$900 millionLand and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) Revitalization (state, local, and federal)
$350 millionState-Level Wildlife Conservation and Restoration Fund
$100 millionHistoric Preservation Fund (state grants and federal)
$200 millionFederal and Indian Lands Restoration
$150 millionConservation Easements & Species Recovery Incentives (private landowners)
$200 millionPayment In-Lieu of Taxes (PILT) and Refuge Revenue Sharing
The bill marked up today was the product of several months of negotiations between Chairman Don Young (R-AK, chief sponsor of HR 701) and Ranking Democrat George Miller (D-CA, lead sponsor of HR 798) and represents a combination of their legislation. Together, the two bills have amassed support from 216 House members, nearly 50 percent of the House. In addition, 49 governors, including Montana's Gov. Marc Racicot, have voiced public support for these bills or their concepts and have worked to move this legislation through Congress.

Graham said Montana, which faces tremendous challenges attempting to conserve declining wildlife and dwindling habitats, could see an infusion of more than $5.8 million to help conserve many of the state's dwindling wildlife species. It includes financial incentives to private landowners for maintaining threatened species.

"Most of the species we're charged with managing have no dedicated funding to help detect early signs of decline," Graham said. "Montanans are becoming acutely aware almost by the week that yet another animal is being considered for protection under the Endangered Species Act. More than anything else, with this vote Congress has recognized that hunters and anglers alone cannot be expected to bear the cost of these programs. The wildlife funding in HR 701 will help wildlife agencies get a jump on potential problems and, we hope, prevent more species from being added to the endangered species list."