Trump Administration Proposes List of Conservation Projects After Deadline

Image: Wikimedia Commons

by Natasha Lasky, ODP Contributing Writer

On Monday, the Trump administration submitted an index of projects that will get funding under a conservation program, which could help protect a number of important national parks throughout the nation. The only issue is that the administration submitted this list a week after it was due to Congress. 

Why This Matters: This funding was the result of a bipartisan law which passed August 4: the Great American Outdoors Act, which gave the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) $900 million dollars over five years to help maintain the country’s national parks and undertake further conservation projects. According to the law, the Trump administration had 90 days to put together two lists of projects, one for maintenance, the other for further conservation. The Interior Department gave Congress the maintenance list on time, but submitted the conservation list a week late.

The fact that this list came in late suggests that the LWCF  was not a priority for the Trump administration, despite how much they’ve touted it for the sake of vulnerable Senate races in the 2020 election.

House Natural Resources Committee Chairman Raúl Grijalva told The Hill that it was “somewhat perplexing and raises a lot of questions about this administration’s intent.” Moreover, even the maintenance list — the one that the Trump administration turned in on time — was lacking important information. Grijalva continued: “We asked for detailed projects lists and got a bunch of numbers,’ he said. ‘The lack of transparency and accountability is ridiculous.”

 

All A Ploy? As Wes Siler of Outside Online explained, not only does the missed proposal threaten the success of a huge variety of conservation projects, but advocacy groups warn it could be an attempt by the Trump administration to undermine the act’s goals.

  • The move coincided with the election, even as vulnerable Republican senators who supported the GAOA campaigned on its passage. 
  • Organizations hoping to spend LWCF funds—state and local governments and various non-profits—are now left with nothing but uncertainty, meaning they can’t set budgets, hire contractors, or conduct planning. 
  • Conservation and public land advocates fear that the delay could be because oil lobbyist-turned-Secretary of the Interior David Bernhardt is preparing an implementation memo that could seek to control how LWCF money is spent. 

Reaching 30×30: The recipients of LWCF funding will help begin widespread conservation efforts across the country. The list includes 20 Fish and Wildlife Service projects and 26 National Park Service Projects that cover areas like the Everglades, Cuyahoga Valley National Park, and Glacier National Park. 

For states with a large portion of federal land, like Colorado, this funding will prove integral in meeting conservation goals. Recently, a consortium of Colorado conservation groups has proposed a plan to conserve 30% of the state’s land by 2030, a crucial conservation benchmark that has also been adopted by other states.

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