Chair Grijalva Cheers Passage of Historic Public Lands Package That Protects Our Environment, Boosts Our Economy and Conserves American History

Washington, D.C. – Chair Raúl M. Grijalva (D-Ariz.) today cheered passage of the historic Natural Resources Management Act, a bipartisan conservation and public lands package that includes permanent reauthorization of the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) and designates approximately 1.3 million acres of wilderness, 693,000 acres of recreation and conservation areas, and two mineral withdrawal areas totaling 370,000 acres, protecting nearly 2.4 million acres of public lands in total from future mining operations.

“This bill represents Congress at its best and truly gives the American people something to be excited about,” Grijalva said today. “It’s a massive win for the present and future of American conservation. Everyone from inner cities to suburbs to rural communities wins when we work together to preserve the outdoors. Today is the one hundredth anniversary of Grand Canyon National Park, and there’s no better time to pass a conservation bill of this historic importance.”

You can watch a video of his floor remarks this afternoon in favor of the bill at http://bit.ly/2BW8jqr.

The bill’s conservation measures are expected to generate significant economic activity and, among other features, will expand two national parks and a national preserve. LWCF – funded through a public royalty on offshore oil and gas development revenue – protects public lands at every scale, from national parks and wildlife refuges to local trails, parks and ball fields. According to the Department of the Interior, each LWCF dollar invested in a community generates four times that amount in economic activity.

LWCF has funded 42,000 projects across the country, bringing tremendous economic benefits and returns on investment since it was established in 1965. The program has expired twice in recent years. Today’s bill reauthorizing the law removes it from future political consideration and prevents any future expirations.

Among other measures, the bill will impact the country in the following ways.

Public Lands

  • designate more than 1 million acres of wilderness on federal land in California, Oregon, Utah, and New Mexico;
  • add five new national recreation areas;
  • expand Joshua Tree National Park, Death Valley National Park and Mojave National Preserve; and
  • cut off new mining activities in areas north of Yellowstone National Park and outside North Cascades National Park.

Fact: The Emery County Public Land Management title alone protects more than 600,000 acres in Utah, making it the biggest wilderness bill in nearly 25 years.

African American History

  • protect the home of Medgar and Myrlie Evers, passionate advocates for justice and equity during the Civil Rights Movement;
  • expand the Reconstruction Era National Monument into a National Historic Park;
  • create a Reconstruction Era National Historic Network to coordinate historical preservation and education efforts;
  • reauthorize the Historically Black Colleges and Universities Historic Preservation Program.


  • authorize the Every Kid Outdoors Act for seven years, providing every fourth-grader in the U.S. free access to public lands; and
  • include a bipartisan sportsmen’s package designed to enhance access for hunting, fishing, and other recreation activities on public lands and waters.

Conservation and Job Training

  • expand protections under the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act to over 370,000 riparian acres, including segments along the Lower Farmington, Salmon Brook, Wood-Pawcatuck, and Nashua rivers in New England;
  • expand the Ocmulgee National Monument in Georgia;
  • designate several new National Heritage Areas in Arizona, Washington, and West Virginia; and
  • establish the 21st Century Civilian Conservation Corps to increase job training opportunities for youth, veterans, and Native Americans on public and tribal lands.


  • reauthorize the Fish and Wildlife Partners program, which would give assistance to private land owners for restoring, enhancing and managing their land to improve fish and wildlife habitats;
  • reauthorize the Multinational Species Conservation Fund, which makes targeted investments to protect African elephants, Asian elephants, great apes, marine turtles, tigers, and rhinos; and
  • establishes prize competitions for innovative approaches to wildlife conservation, invasive species control, and poaching and trafficking issues.

In Grijalva’s home state of Arizona, LWCF has already invested more than $228 million to protect public lands, historic sites, and increase recreational opportunities. LWCF and other conservation sites fuel the outdoor recreation economy in Arizona, contributing $21 billion to the economy, supporting more than 200,000 jobs and providing $5.7 billion in wages.

More detail on the bill’s many impacts is available at the end of this press release.

Today’s historic package, which includes more than 100 land and water conservation measures, passed the House of Representatives by a vote of 363-62. The Senate approved the package earlier this month, and it now heads to the president to be signed into law.

More Information

Rural Resources

Rural impacts of protecting public lands: HERE

Pew report – “Wildlife related recreation boosts rural economies”: HERE

Joint Economic Committee report – “Public Lands Spur Local Economies”: HERE

Recreation economy state numbers: HERE

Protecting public lands in rural communities drives economic development. Outdoor recreation is helping rural communities thrive across the country by fueling opportunities for Americans to enjoy outdoor traditions like hiking, hunting, camping, and fishing.

State-Specific Resources

LWCF protected sites by state: HERE

Recreation economy state numbers: HERE

LWCF coalition state highlights: HERE

State specific graphics from LWCF Coalition: HERE

Videos from the Wilderness Society: HERE

Press Contact

Media Contact: Adam Sarvana

(202) 225-6065 or (202) 578-6626 mobile