WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senators Jacky Rosen (D-NV) and Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV) sent a letter to U.S. Department of the Interior Secretary Haaland and U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Vilsack urging them to ensure that states like Nevada get their fair share of Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) projects and to meet with Nevada stakeholders – including state and local governments, Tribal governments, environmental conservation groups, the outdoor recreation community, and the public – to discuss opportunities for more Nevada LWCF projects to be included next year. In their letter, the Senators also highlight the critical importance of the Southern Nevada Public Land Management Act (SNPLMA) as another tool for conserving natural resources and enhancing recreational opportunities throughout Nevada, and urge the Administration to expeditiously complete upcoming SNPLMA rounds.

“For over 50 years, the LWCF has been an essential program to protect our natural lands and wildlife and provide outdoor recreational opportunities in all fifty states across the country. Nevada has received more than $100 million in LWCF funding, helping to improve our parks and conservation areas and enhance everyone’s experience of the outdoors,” wrote the Senators.

“However, we were disappointed that the LWCF project and deferred maintenance lists that the Department of the Interior (DOI) and USFS submitted following the passage of the Great American Outdoors Act were not fully representative of all states,” continued the Senators.  Particularly, these lists did not include many projects in Nevada. Considering that over 70 percent of the land in Nevada is managed by DOI and USFS, the LWCF is especially critical in facilitating much needed maintenance and providing greater access to our vast public lands. We urge you to reevaluate the prior administration’s list of projects and ensure that each state is provided greater equity commensurate with each state’s needs and priorities.”

BACKGROUND: Last Congress, Rosen and Cortez Masto proudly co-sponsored and voted in favor of the Great American Outdoors Act, bipartisan legislation to fully fund the LWCF and address the deferred maintenance backlog on public lands. The Great American Outdoors Act was signed into law on August 2020.

The full text of the letter can be found here and below:

Dear Secretary Haaland and Secretary Vilsack:

We write to you in support of the Biden Administration’s rescission of Secretarial Order 3388 and its commitment to realign the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) toward maximizing available resources for projects that fall under the jurisdiction of the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and the U.S. Forest Service (USFS). We would also like to highlight the need to expand conservation projects throughout our home state of Nevada.

For over 50 years, the LWCF has been an essential program to protect our natural lands and wildlife and provide outdoor recreational opportunities in all fifty states across the country. Nevada has received more than $100 million in LWCF funding, helping to improve our parks and conservation areas and enhance everyone’s experience of the outdoors. That is why, last Congress, we were proud to co-sponsor and vote for the Great American Outdoors Act, bipartisan legislation to fully fund the LWCF and address the deferred maintenance backlog on our public lands. We are very pleased to see the Administration following through on Congress’s bipartisan framework by ensuring that LWCF can fully benefit BLM and USFS projects, in addition to U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and National Park Services acquisitions.

However, we were disappointed that the LWCF project and deferred maintenance lists that the Department of the Interior (DOI) and USFS submitted following the passage of the Great American Outdoors Act were not fully representative of all states.  Particularly, these lists did not include many projects in Nevada. Considering that over 70 percent of the land in Nevada is managed by DOI and USFS, the LWCF is especially critical in facilitating much needed maintenance and providing greater access to our vast public lands. We urge you to reevaluate the prior administration’s list of projects and ensure that each state is provided greater equity commensurate with each state’s needs and priorities.  In addition, we respectfully request that you and your staff meet with Nevada stakeholders – including state and local governments, Tribal governments, environmental conservation groups, the outdoor recreation community, and the public – to discuss opportunities for more LWCF projects to be included in Fiscal Year 2022 and beyond.

Lastly, we would like to highlight the critical importance of the Southern Nevada Public Land Management Act (SNPLMA) as another tool for conserving our natural resources and enhancing recreational opportunities in Nevada. As you may know, SNPLMA allows the BLM to release federal land in the Las Vegas Valley in Clark County, Nevada and to partially use the related revenue to fund federal land improvement projects. Since becoming law in 1998, SNPLMA has funded over 1,200 projects across our state, helping to establish more than 8,700 acres of parks, acquire more than 70,000 acres of environmentally sensitive land, and create and maintain more than 300 miles of recreational roads and trails. Since its inception, SNPLMA has completed 17 rounds of project nominations and subsequent funding, averaging approximately 1 round every 1.5 years. Unfortunately, under the previous Administration, the DOI failed to comprehensively both initiate and complete a full SNPLMA round. Many of our constituents are eager to engage with you in support of future rounds. Given the local importance and interest in this program, we request an update on SNPLMA Round 19, as well as an update and commitment on expeditiously initiating and completing forthcoming SNPLMA rounds.

We look forward to working with you and the rest of the Biden Administration on future endeavors regarding public land preservation, improving access to outdoor recreation, and reducing the impacts of climate change. The LWCF and SNPLMA remain to be instrumental tools in achieving these goals for the state of Nevada.

Should you want to discuss this matter in greater detail, please feel free to contact us directly. Your staff may contact Kelly Riddle (Kelly_Riddle@rosen.senate.gov) and Kyle Chapman (Kyle_Chapman@cortezmasto.senate.gov) in our offices. Thank you for your attention to these issues.

Sincerely,

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