"Conservation Funding Sparks Political Battle"

"MONUMENT, Colo. -- The 50,000 drivers who cruise daily along Interstate 25 between Denver and Colorado Springs drive through ranch and farm land marked by dramatic buttes and the presence of wild animals, a vista that might have been very different but for a little-known federal program. "The Land and Water Conservation Fund, which Congress created in 1965, helped pay for this open space, along with large swaths of land in other areas across the country. But there is a fight looming in Washington as Congress plans to drastically cut the program’s budget, and President Obama, who had accepted cuts in the past, appears ready to oppose them."

"The White House has warned it will veto the House Interior spending bill, in part because of its cuts to the conservation fund program. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said in a telephone interview that the bill would bring conservation 'as close to zero as it’s been in modern times.'

The fund is supposed to receive $900 million each fiscal year out of U.S. offshore oil and gas revenue to pay for federal land acquisitions. But with the exception of fiscal 1998, its funding has consistently fallen well short of that mark. The 2011 operating plan provided $300.5 million, and although Obama asked for $900 million for fiscal 2012, the pending House appropriations bill for Interior allocates just under $95 million."

Juliet Eilperin reports for the Washington Post October 9, 2011.

Source: Wash Post, 10/10/2011