Warner, Kaine applaud Senate passage of Land and Water Conservation Fund bill

Mark Warner, Tim Kaine on continuing resolutionU.S. Sens. Mark Warner and Tim Kaine (both D-VA) applauded Senate passage of a historic lands bill — S. 47, the Natural Resources Management Act — that permanently reauthorizes the Land and Water Conservation Fund, a program that protects and preserves Virginia’s public lands.

Sens. Warner and Kaine have been strong advocates for permanent reauthorization of LWCF. Authorization for the Fund expired at the end of last fiscal year.

“The Land and Water Conservation Fund is essential to preserving and protecting Virginia’s rich history and beautiful landscapes,” said the Senators. “By providing long-term security for this critical program, communities across the Commonwealth will be able to continue caring for our natural resources and history for future generations to enjoy.”

The LWCF provides states and local communities with technical assistance, recognition, and funding to help preserve their own history and create close-to-home recreation opportunities. In the span of four decades, Virginia has received more than $350 million in LWCF funding to protect dozens of national parks, wildlife refuges, forests, trails and more. This bipartisan package is supported by dozens of conservation and recreation organizations, including the National Wildlife Federation, the League of Conservation Voters, the Outdoor Industry Association, and the Nature Conservancy.

The lands package also reauthorizes the Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) Grant Program. Historically Black Colleges and Universities Grants support the preservation of sites on HBCU campuses that are listed in the National Register of Historic Places. Eligible projects include pre-preservation studies, architectural plans and specifications, historic structure reports, and the repair and rehabilitation of historic properties according to the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for the Treatment of Historic Properties. Last year, Virginia Union, Hampton University, Virginia State, and Virginia University of Lynchburg received grants totaling $2.27 million under the HBCU grant program.

The lands package also includes a provision introduced by Sen. Warner that expedites access to national parks for Good Samaritans, or eligible search and recovery organizations, after they sign a liability waiver. Sen. Warner pushed for the legislative fix after Alexandria resident Jodi Goldberg’s brother Keith was killed and his body was left at the Lake Mead National Recreation Area near Las Vegas, Nevada in 2012. His family worked for 10 months to get the permits and secure a million-dollar liability insurance policy required by the National Park Service before it would allow a trained volunteer search and recovery team to search for his body in the national park.

In addition, the bill includes language backed by Sens. Warner and Kaine, along with the entire Virginia delegation, that designates the George C. Marshall Museum and Research Library in Lexington as the National George C. Marshall Museum and Library.

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