By Zachary Blackwell
Elm Staff Writer
In what is a stunning victory for conservationists nationwide, the U.S. Senate has approved the passage of legislation that aims to protect and expand our county’s national park system. The National Resources Management Act, a titanic 662-page document which aims to help strengthen the conservation of national parks and other federally-owned lands, was passed by the Senate on Feb. 12 by a vote of 92-8.
The bill is “the most sweeping conservation legislation in a decade, protecting millions of acres of land and hundreds of miles of wild rivers across the country and establishing four new national monuments honoring heroes including Civil War soldiers and a civil rights icon,” according to the Washington Post. The bill also includes funding and habitats set aside for various species of wildlife.
Among other massive changes the legislation would make, the biggest proposal is that a federal program would be implemented to “funnel offshore drilling revenue to conserve a spread of sites that includes major national parks and wildlife preserves, as well as local baseball diamonds and basketball courts,” said the Washington Post. This program (the Land and Water Conservation Fund) was halted because of the government shutdown, as well as other disputes, but would be started again if the bill becomes law. Although the funding for this program is mandatory, it is still a promising step that makes leaps and bounds in the federal government’s attempts to protect the environment.
The bill was passed so overwhelmingly in the Senate because of how popular many of the proposals are among senators and their constituents both. Many people would benefit from these provisions, including hunters and anglers, environmentalists and conservationists, and people who simply have an appreciation for these federal lands. The fact that there was strong bipartisan support for such a bill shows the diversity of interests that people have regarding the preservation of nature.
When people think of who benefits from protecting federal land, many are not aware of just how much broad support there is for conservation efforts around our nation. It’s not just environmentalists who stand to benefit from the implementation of this bill, but local communities across the U.S. as well. It’s promising to see the wide range of support for this between advocacy groups, politicians, and regular citizens. It’s also comforting that there is a huge chunk of the population that is concerned with keeping land in our country beautiful and untouched so that future generations can enjoy it.
As someone who is very passionate about environmental issues, it’s encouraging to see that despite the disagreements that have infiltrated every facet of society, many people in the U.S. are willing to promote the preservation of natural parks and other valued areas of the natural world. I feel as though not everybody has a thorough understanding of why national parks and other preservation areas are so important, but the strong bipartisan support for the National Resources Management Act shows that people are, in fact, becoming more aware of the environmental issues facing our country and the world.
Although there is still a long way to go in making sure that the bill is turned into law, the fact that such a monumental bill has been created and overwhelmingly approved by the Senate speaks volumes about the concern for our cherished national parks.