An important but little-known public lands fund expired this weekend.
Proposals were before the House and Senate to reauthorize the fund.
The Land, Water and Conservation Fund is a federal program that puts royalties from oil and gas leases toward protecting forests, water and wildlife habitat. Usually, that means buying up land and then setting it aside for conservation.
Congressional leaders have been sparring over how much money should go into the fund, and whether the fund should be permanent.
"It’s disappointing that we’re letting it expire," says Ashley Korenblat with Public Lands Solutions, a nonpartisan nonprofit in Utah. She says those dollars have had an important role in helping communities transition from resource extraction to recreation economies.
"If we lose the Land and Water Conservation Fund, we will be putting those communities at a disadvantage," says Korenblatt. "It’ll be much much harder to enhance and buy land for public use."
Both the Senate and the House are debating bills that would reauthorize the fund. But as of yet there is no decision.
Find reporter Amanda Peacher on Twitter @amandapeacher.
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This story was produced by the Mountain West News Bureau, a collaboration between Wyoming Public Media, Boise State Public Radio in Idaho, Yellowstone Public Radio in Montana, KUER in Salt Lake City and KRCC and KUNC in Colorado.