Bishop Looks to Overhaul Conservation Program

Rep. Rob Bishop introduces legislation that would reauthorize the Land and Water Conservation Fund but shift its focus to state and local projects while limiting the feds’ ability to purchase private land.

Reports The Hill (see also related USA Today story):

“If we’re going to spend this much money, we can’t think small,” Bishop said Thursday. “We have to think of something big that’s going to help people. Otherwise we shouldn’t be doing it at all.”


Bishop and other Western Republicans have criticized the fund for what they consider an unfair split between state and federal funding.


At its onset in the 1960s, the fund gave about 60 percent of its money to state programs. That balance has shifted toward the federal government over time, and Bishop said his bill would reverse that trend.


Authority for the fund lapsed at the end of September, and outdoors and conservation groups have pushed Congress to pass a bill reauthorizing it. Lawmakers, including some Republicans, have tried to do the same.


A Senate panel looked to reform the system in August, passing a bill the would have provided 40 percent of the fund each to state and federal programs, with 20 percent to be allocated annually at Congress’s discretion.


But Bishop has resisted that push, saying the program needed further changes before it could be extended.


“We’ve got to reshape the discussion so that we’re actually talking about how we can make all this money that we are using useful, so it actually helps people and we can be proud of the progress we are making,” he said.