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Shaheen, Hassan Sponsor Renewed Bipartisan Push to Permanently Fund LWCF, Address Maintenance Backlog on NH Federal Lands

**President Trump and Republican Senators are getting behind conservation legislation long-championed by Senators Shaheen and Hassan**

**This bipartisan legislation would help address more than $43 million maintenance backlog in New Hampshire, including the White Mountain National Forest and Great Bay National Wildlife Refuge** 

(Washington, DC)— U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), a senior member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, announced today with U.S. Senator Maggie Hassan (D-NH) that they’ve cosponsored bipartisan legislation to permanently fund the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) and the Restore Our Parks Act (ROPA), which provides mandatory funding for deferred maintenance at the National Park Service, the Forest Service and Fish and Wildlife Service. The LWCF helps preserve and maintain critical lands for national parks, forests, wildlife refuges and recreational areas in New Hampshire and across the country. The bill – the Great American Outdoors Act – was introduced yesterday by Senators Cory Gardner (R-CO) and Joe Manchin (D-WV). 

“This legislation would represent an historic investment in conservation and federal lands, and I’m very glad that there’s a renewed bipartisan effort to get this legislation across the finish line,” said Senator Shaheen. “The Land and Water Conservation Fund has helped protect and preserve treasured sites all across our state. The LWCF continues to be a win for our environment and our outdoor recreation economy, and permanent funding holds exciting potential for further conservation efforts in New Hampshire. Further, federal lands and refuges in our state have substantial maintenance backlogs that are causing budget shortfalls and leading to budgeting decisions that are detrimental to the safety and long-term health of these attractions. I’ll be working across the aisle to get this legislation passed in the Senate and I urge Leader McConnell to expeditiously bring it up for a vote.”

“New Hampshire’s beautiful natural resources help define us as a state,” said Senator Hassan. “Our tourism and outdoor recreation industry are also critical economic drivers, which makes it even more essential that we protect and maintain our natural resources for generations to come. I have long supported the Land and Water Conservation Fund, and I am glad that the Senate is moving forward with bipartisan legislation to permanently fund this critical program. I am also pleased that it will address the costly maintenance backlog at federals lands across the country, including throughout New Hampshire. I will continue working across the aisle to protect our environment and ensure that Granite Staters and visitors alike can enjoy all that our state has to offer.” 

Jack Savage, President of the Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests said, “The Forest Society has long advocated for full, permanent funding of the Land and Water Conservation Fund at its authorized level of $900 million annually. The strong, bipartisan support for the Great American Outdoors Act demonstrates that the long-term protection of the country’s treasured landscapes and unique natural areas is a shared goal. The efforts to pass it also reflect how outdoor businesses and recreationists, hunters and fishermen, conservationists and parks advocates all value the vital opportunities created by land conservation in communities across the country. Full funding of the LWCF will be a huge benefit to New Hampshire given how much we rely on the natural resources and outdoors for our livelihoods and lifestyle. Through the end of 2019, our state had received a total of $165.4 million in LWCF funds since the program’s establishment in 1964. It has funded major additions to the White Mountain National Forest and the establishment of the Lake Umbagog National Wildlife Refuge. The LWCF has also supported the Forest Legacy Program, placing permanent conservation easements on privately-owned working forest lands, like the 146,100-acre Connecticut Headwaters conservation easement in Coos County, and the Moose Mountains Reservation (owned by the Forest Society) in Middleton and Brookfield. On behalf of the Forest Society, I want to recognize Senators Shaheen and Hassan for being champions for the LWCF and thank them for their support of the Great American Outdoors Act.”

New Hampshire has a backlog of more than $43 million in deferred maintenance. The following lands and refuges would be eligible for maintenance funding under the Great American Outdoors Act:

  • White Mountain National Forest
  • Great Bay National Wildlife Refuge
  • Umbagog National Wildlife Refuge
  • John Hay National Wildlife Refuge
  • Wapack National Wildlife Refuge
  • Saint-Gaudens National Historical Park
  • Conte National Wildlife Refuge
  • Appalachian Trail

Shaheen and Hassan have led efforts to help secure full funding and permanent authorization for the LWCF, which has helped protect more than 2.5 million acres of land and supported tens of thousands of state and local outdoor recreation projects throughout the nation. Shaheen and Hassan’s bipartisan bill to permanently reauthorize the LWCF was included in legislation that was signed into law last year. A senior member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, Senator Shaheen successfully secured $495 million in federal funding – $60 million over previous funding levels – for the LWCF in government funding legislation signed into law in December. Both Shaheen and Hassan cosponsored the Restore Our Parks Act, bipartisan legislation that would address the nearly $12 billion backlog in long-delayed maintenance projects at the National Park Service (NPS). 

Bill text of the Great American Outdoors Act is available here.