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KUNC is among the founding partners of the Mountain West News Bureau, a collaboration of public media stations that serve the Western states of Colorado, Idaho, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming.

Land Fund Expires With No Action From Congress

The South Fork River near Henry's Fork in Idaho is one area that was protected through the Land, Water and Conservation Fund.
The South Fork River near Henry's Fork in Idaho is one area that was protected through the Land, Water and Conservation Fund.
The Department of the Interior manages more than 530 million acres of federal lands, most of which are in the American West.
Credit Bureau of Land Management
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The South Fork River near Henry's Fork in Idaho is one area that was protected through the Land, Water and Conservation Fund.

An important but little-known public lands fund expired this weekend. 

Proposals were before the House and Senate to reauthorize the fund.

The Land, Water and Conservation Fund is a federal program that puts royalties from oil and gas leases toward protecting forests, water and wildlife habitat. Usually, that means buying up land and then setting it aside for conservation.

Congressional leaders have been sparring over how much money should go into the fund, and whether the fund should be permanent. 

"It’s disappointing that we’re letting it expire," says Ashley Korenblat with Public Lands Solutions, a nonpartisan nonprofit in Utah. She says those dollars have had an important role in helping communities transition from resource extraction to recreation economies. 

"If we lose the Land and Water Conservation Fund, we will be putting those communities at a disadvantage," says Korenblatt. "It’ll be much much harder to enhance and buy land for public use." 

Both the Senate and the House are debating bills that would reauthorize the fund.  But as of yet there is no decision.  

Find reporter Amanda Peacher on Twitter  @amandapeacher .

Copyright 2018 Boise State Public Radio

This story was produced by the Mountain West News Bureau, a collaboration between Wyoming Public Media, Boise State Public Radio in Idaho, Yellowstone Public Radio in Montana, KUER in Salt Lake City and KRCC and KUNC in Colorado.

Copyright 2020 Boise State Public Radio News. To see more, visit Boise State Public Radio News.

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