The Wilderness Society issued the following statement on the heels of House and Senate passage today of the omnibus budget package, which now goes to President Obama for signature.
“Passage of this budget is an important step that allows us to focus on protecting and celebrating our nation’s parks and public lands in 2016,” said Jamie Williams, president of The Wilderness Society.
The three-year extension and increased funding for the Land and Water Conservation Fund included in the bill, while falling far short of the permanent reauthorization the program deserves, is a good place to start that vital work. Local communities will now see the impact of a revived LWCF that will need bipartisan champions to guarantee a long term solution for this critical program.
Stronger funding is needed for our nation’s parks, public lands and recreation programs, ensuring all Americans have the opportunity to find adventure in the great outdoors. We must focus on better equipping land agencies to battle wildfires and complete critical restoration work. And all the while we must halt attempts by special interests to push for more drilling on public lands, shortchange sensible investments in clean energy innovation or derail sensible local plans to protect wildlife when the effects of climate change are already altering many of our public lands.
With the small steps forward this budget bill takes, we can turn them into giant leaps forward that will put our nation’s parks and wilderness on a healthier path for the future.”