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Historic Protection For America's Environment And Cultural Heritage

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Historic Protection For America's Environment And Cultural Heritage (10/11/00)

Today, President Clinton will sign an Interior Department budget bill for fiscal year 2001 that provides unprecedented dedicated funding for the conservation of America's land and coastal resources - a total of $12 billion over six years. The bill also provides increased funding for the National Endowment for the Arts and National Endowment for the Humanities - a total of $225 million -- supporting important initiatives to increase understanding and access to arts and humanities for all Americans. In addition, the $16.9 billion budget measure increases funding to prevent and fight wildfires, to develop and deploy new energy conservation technologies, and to assist Native American communities.

PROVIDING DEDICATED CONSERVATION FUNDING FOR AMERICA'S TREASURES. In the culmination of a bipartisan effort, the President and Vice President secured dedicated conservation funding totaling $12 billion over six years to protect parks and forests, community green spaces, and coastland. This bill -- which will more than triple the current funding for these programs by 2006 - represents a major step toward the goal of permanent conservation funding. At the same time, the Clinton-Gore Administration fought back numerous anti-environmental riders that would have traded hard-won environmental safeguards for short-term special interest gains.

This legislation provides $1.2 billion for conservation in 2001, with an additional $400 million to be provided in the Commerce-State-Justice appropriations bill, for a total of $1.6 billion - more than double current funding. This dedicated funding will rise to $2.4 billion in 2006. Nearly two-thirds of these funds will go to the states and local communities to protect their own special places. This will provide an historic opportunity for the federal government to work with communities to protect the nation's natural treasures, and for states and local communities to provide parks and recreation and to protect the local open green spaces and forests that are most important to them.

This legislation represents a major step forward while the Administration continues to work with Congress to secure additional funding.

Programs receiving dedicated multi-year funding include:

  • Federal and State Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF). Federal LWCF funding has been used to protect Yellowstone National Park from mining, the ancient redwoods in California, Civil War battlefields, and the Appalachian Trail. This new funding will continue this progress in places including California's Big Sur coast, the Lewis and Clark Historic Trail, Florida's Everglades, the Tallgrass Prairie in North and South Dakota, and the Sedona Red Rocks in Arizona. State LWCF funding is available directly to states to be used for the conservation purposes most important to them, including protection of open space and parkland from the pressures of sprawl. The bill provides a minimum of $540 million a year for federal and state LWCF.
  • State and Local Programs. A minimum of $350 million a year, providing states and local governments with a variety of tools to protect parks, greenways, wildlife habitat, forests, and wetlands. Programs funded are: State Wildlife Grants, Cooperative Endangered Species Fund, North American Wetlands Conservation Fund, Forest Legacy, and planning grants through the U.S. Geologic Survey and the Forest Service. Funding is also provided for the Payment in Lieu of Taxes program to replace local property taxes lost when property is federally owned.
  • Urban and Historic Preservation Programs. A minimum of $160 million a year, providing urban areas with funds for parks, recreation, and youth conservation jobs programs, as well as funding for historic preservation nationwide. Programs funded are Urban Parks Restoration and Recovery (UPARR), Historic Preservation Fund, Urban and Community Forestry, and Youth Conservation Corps.

-*Maintenance and Repair of Federal Facilities.* A minimum of $150 million a year for maintenance work at national parks, wildlife refuges, Bureau of Land Management lands and national forests.

-*Coastal Programs.* Sets aside a minimum of $400 million a year for programs protecting the coastal environment, including programs to benefit endangered Pacific salmon, coral reefs, marine sanctuaries, and estuarine reserves. Further funding will be allocated in the Commerce, Justice and State appropriations process.

INCREASED FUNDING FOR WILDLAND FIRE SUPPRESSION AND REDUCTION. The legislation provides $2.9 billion, more than twice current funding, to address both the economic and environmental impact of this summer's wildland fires; to rehabilitate fire-damaged areas; to reduce the threat of future wildfires on our forests, grasslands and private lands; and to work with communities to prevent fires in high-risk urban/wildland interface areas.

PROTECTING THE ENVIRONMENT AND SAVING MONEY THROUGH ENERGY CONSERVATION. The legislation provides $817 million, a 10 percent increase over last year, for research and development of more efficient cars, trucks and buildings, and clean non-petroleum fuels; and for grants to help low-income households insulate their homes for the coming winter. This funding -- a record level for the Clinton-Gore Administration -- will benefit the environment, our nation's energy security, and consumers' pocketbooks.

PROMOTING THE ARTS AND HUMANITIES IN AMERICA. In 1996 Congress imposed deep cuts on both the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities, which led both agencies to cut approximately 40 per cent of their staff and reduce the number of grants awarded by approximately two-thirds. This year, President Clinton proposed to expand resources for the NEA and NEH to provide support for important cultural, educational and artistic programs for communities across America. The Interior appropriations bill the President will sign today includes significant funding increases for both agencies. The bill increases the NEA's budget by $7 million, for a total of $105 million, the first increase in more than seven years. Among other important grant programs, NEA will use these funds to move forward with Challenge America, which provides grants to expand arts education and promotion in traditionally underserved communities. The bill also increases NEH's budget by $5 million -- to a total of $120 million -- which will allow the agency to fund important cultural and humanities programs across the nation, including programs to broaden access to the humanities programs in traditionally underserved areas.

INCREASED FUNDING FOR NATIVE AMERICAN PROGRAMS. The bill also provides $4.9 billion for the Departments of Interior and Health and Human Services, a 12 percent increase, for key components of the Administration's Native American Initiative Program, including most of the requested investments in Indian school construction, law enforcement, and health care.

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