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Environment: Keep funds for vital agency

Among the most important federal programs very few people have heard of is the Land and Water Conservation Fund. Ensuring it has enough money is the proverbial no-brainer.

Doing so will require action by Congress and approval by President Donald Trump, however. Lawmakers and the president must be urged — not just encouraged — to make it happen.

As we have explained previously, the fund conducts many projects and programs the name would suggest. It is important in preserving significant lands and bodies of water throughout our country. More than 2.37 million acres have been saved by the fund.

Another aspect of the fund may not be obvious to many Americans. It is well-known by most local government officials, however.

Funding from the agency goes to many local recreational needs, ranging from parks to public swimming pools. Dozens of towns, counties and other local government entities in our area have benefited. Every county in the United States has received Land and Water Conservation Fund money, through more than 40,000 grants since 1965.

Yet, despite the agency’s critical importance, there was some doubt earlier this year that the initiative would continue to exist. That doubt was erased in a bill the president signed into law several weeks ago.

But now, the question of ensuring the agency is funded has come up. A bill would resolve that. The measure, S 1081, would guarantee the agency is authorized for $900 million in annual funding.

A bipartisan coalition of lawmakers are co-sponsoring the important bill. It needs to be approved by both the Senate and the House of Representatives as soon as possible, then sent to the president for his signature.

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