West Virginians for Public Lands – October 2018

Land and Water Conservation Fund Update

The bad news: Congress failed to reauthorize the Land and Water Conservation Fund before it expired on September 30.

The good news: Senators Manchin and Capito supported reauthorization and full funding for LWCF in a key committee vote. No doubt all of your calls, letters and postcards made a difference in supporting our Senators’ leadership on LWCF.

We expect the work of passing a new bill for LWCF to continue until the end of the 115th Congress. But the clock is ticking — our public lands lose up to $2.46 million each day the fund is lapsed.

Encourage our Senators to act quickly on LWCF here.

Wild and Scenic Goes for Gold

October marks the 50th anniversary of the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act. 12,700 miles of over 200 rivers are protected under this law. The Bluestone National Scenic River is West Virginia’s only wild and scenic river, despite numerous studies of other candidates.

To celebrate the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act, respected conservationist and outdoorsman Mark Jennings wrote about his frequent outings on the Bluestone. WVPL’s Matt Kearns writes about his packraft trip down the Bluestone this summer.

Capito Introduces National Park Bill

Senator Capito formally announced a bill re-designating the New River Gorge National River as a National Park. Supporters hope that the increased status that comes as a full-fledged National Park will help promote tourism in Southern WV. While the bill does preserve the status quo for hunting, some sportsmen question what the rest of Congress might think about the precedent of allowing sport hunting inside a national park. Alaska, among other states, uses a “Park and Preserve” model for hunting that may offer a compromise model.

Small Victory for National Monuments

Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument in Utah.

The Trump Administration has been taken to court over the shrinking of Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monuments, two of the 27 national monuments under executive review. The first round of that legal battle tipped toward the native tribes leading the fight against the reductions. The courts decided that the case would be heard in Washington DC instead of Utah, where some of the tribes may have lost standing. Public comments for the new national monument management plans are accepted thru November 15. Since they are only a fraction of their former size, stronger protections are needed for the public lands within the reduced monument boundaries.

Transition Time for WVPL Campaign Staffing

Join the WV Rivers team and the WVPL alliance in giving Matt Kearns a fond farewell as he leaves his post as WV Rivers’ public lands coordinator this month. We’ll miss Matt’s leadership, but we look forward to seeing how he applies his talents and passion for public lands in his new job and as a volunteer for the WVPL campaign.

WV Rivers is committed to re-staffing the public lands campaign and continuing the work of the WVPL alliance.

In the meantime, please don’t hesitate to contact Kathleen Tyner, ktyner@wvrivers.org, 304-637-7201, with questions or comments.

Public Lands in the News

Amanda Pitzer, Executive Director of the Friends of the Cheat, details what the Land and Water Conservation Fund has done for Preston County and the Cheat River Watershed in this letter to the editor calling on Congress to fix the mistake of letting LWCF lapse.

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