U.S. SENATE — Today, U.S. Senator Martha McSally (R-AZ) highlighted the importance of the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF).

During a U.S. Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources hearing to review the LWCF, McSally asked the President and CEO of the National Wildlife Federation, Collin O’Mara, to detail how Arizona residents benefit from opening Bureau of Land Management (BLM) lands near Safford to the public.

“The Land and Water Conservation Fund is really important to Arizona and as an outdoorswoman myself, I very much appreciate the value of the fund and how it’s impacted Arizona,” McSally said. “Mr. O’Mara, in your written testimony, you mentioned a recent conservation success story in Arizona preserving ET Ranch near Safford, Arizona. How were local stakeholders involved in this process and how will it benefit residents and visitors to the area?”

President and CEO of the National Wildlife Federation Collin O’Mara responded: “It’s a wonderful project, and it’s a project that brought together partners from a range of different conservation groups around the state working with yourself, working with the state government as well as the federal agencies, and the idea was to improve public access to a 600-acre BLM wilderness area that was not accessible for the most part around Safford, and then the nearby 27,000-acre Santa Teresa Wilderness Area as well. So by protecting these 600 acres very strategically, and the ET Ranch, we were able to connect these areas providing access for the first time ever. And for the residents of that area who have had these areas viewable but not accessible— kind of look but not touch— it’s transformative.”

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Download McSally’s questioning HERE.

The Land and Water Conservation Fund is built upon a simple premise: if public resources are extracted from the ground, the sum of the value created should be reinvested in conservation. The program was designed to cost American taxpayer nothing, because it is funded by royalties from off-shore oil and gas development. It supports Arizona’s $21 billion industry that supports more than 200,000 jobs and generates nearly $1.5 billion in state and local tax revenue. 

On March 12, the John D. Dingell, Jr. Conservation, Management, and Recreation Act, that permanently reauthorized LWCF, was signed into law with significant Arizona wins championed by McSally. Among those were the John McCain 21st Century Conservation Service Corps Act introduced by McSally to help tackle the backlog of park maintenance projects, and several bills to restore control of local land.

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