More than one million acres conserved.
Last week, the John D. Dingell, Jr. Conservation, Management, and Recreation Act was passed and signed by both the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate, and sent to the President’s desk.
It designates more than one million acres of wilderness for environmental protection, reauthorizing a federal program that will fund conservation permanently.
The bill balances conservation and recreation for the long term, said Rep. Raul Grijalva, of Arizona, who heads the House Natural Resources Committee, reported by the New York Times. The win was a major bipartisan effort.
One of the major components of the bill is the permanent reauthorization of the Land and Water Conservation Fund, a program begun in 1964 that uses funds from energy companies to support onshore conservation. The program has long been supported by annual renewals, but expired in 2018, without renewal at the end of September.
The bill designates 1.3 million acres in California, New Mexico, Oregon, and Utah as “wilderness,” which is the highest level of land protection available in the U.S. The wilderness status removes any possibility of development and even most motorized vehicles. The bill also provides slightly less intense protection for land in Montana and Washington. It also will regulate about 225 miles of river in Connecticut and Massachusetts, and 280 miles of river in Oregon as wild, scenic, or recreational. Three new national monuments will be created as well, in Mississippi and Kentucky.
The bill is named after John D. Dingell, Jr., a federal Representative from Michigan who died in February at the age of 92. He was a lifelong outdoorsman, sponsoring many landmark conservation laws during his nearly 60 years in Congress.
RETTEW’s staff includes many dedicated environmental experts, helping to balance protection and progress to support communities and our earth. We’re happy to see this program extended!