United States Senator Kay R. Hagan (NC) announced that she is cosponsoring two key pieces of legislation to help expand and permanently protect North Carolina's forests and public lands. In an effort to safeguard funding for the state's national parks, recreational areas and waterways, Hagan cosponsored the Land and Water Conservation Authorization and Funding Act. Hagan is also joining 20 Senators today in introducing the Roadless Area Conservation Act of 2011 to shield some of America's premier public lands from development, including 723 acres of roadless area in Southern Appalachia.
"From the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in the west to the Cape Hatteras National Seashore in the east, North Carolina is home to a great diversity of parks, forests and refuges," said Hagan. "My family and I love spending time together outdoors - hiking, camping, fishing and enjoying the scenic views - and I am committed to ensuring that North Carolina's public lands are preserved for future generations. Ensuring sufficient funding for the Land and Water Conservation Fund is particularly important, as few if any federal program has played a more vital role in protecting our parks, green spaces and public lands."
"The North Carolina Wildlife Federation, the state's oldest and largest wildlife conservation organization, hails the Senator's support for full dedicated funding of the Land and Water Conservation Fund," said G. Richard Mode, who serves as Affiliate Representative of the North Carolina Wildlife Federation and National Wildlife Federation Sportsman Outreach Coordinator. "Investments in natural resources fuel a $2.6 billion hunter, angler, and wildlife viewer industry in North Carolina. Sportsmen, conservationists, and all our constituents who care passionately about North Carolina natural resources from the Blue Ridge Mountains to the Outer Banks applaud Senator Hagan's leadership."
The Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) is authorized to receive $900 million per year from royalties collected from offshore oil and gas leases. However, the program has only once received full funding since it was created four decades ago. The Land and Water Conservation Authorization and Funding Act will make funding mandatory, guaranteeing that the LWCF has the resources it needs each year to support our public lands. Full LWCF funding will help protect and preserve 500,000 acres of national wildlife refuges in northeastern North Carolina and 2.4 million acres of national forests in the Southern Appalachians.
"Protecting our forests and public lands is also essential to North Carolina's economy," said Hagan. "Each year over 3.4 million people participate in hunting, fishing, and wildlife watching in our state. Outdoor recreation activities support 95,000 jobs across North Carolina - my first priority."
The Roadless Area Conservation Act will protect 58.5 million acres of roadless area across the country, including 151,000 acres in North Carolina's Pisgah and Nantahala National Forests. The legislation will put into law the Roadless Area Conservation Rule that was adopted by the Clinton Administration in 2001. Hagan cosponsored similar legislation last Congress.
Hagan is committed to protecting North Carolina's valuable natural resources. Last week, she voted against a resolution to overturn a Clean Air Act (CAA) rule that limits air pollution across state borders.