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Report: Many land conservation bills 'languishing’ in Congress

Camp Hale is an example of an area recently protected by President Joe Biden through the Antiquities Act.
Brent Flanders
Camp Hale is an example of an area recently protected by President Joe Biden through the Antiquities Act.

News brief

A new report from the Center for Western Priorities says bills that would protect over 16 million acres in the West are “languishing” in Congress. The group is calling on President Joe Biden to take executive action to conserve these places – including land in New Mexico, Colorado, Nevada and Utah.

A goal of the Biden administration is to conserve at least 30 percent of U.S. lands and waters by 2030. The center’s Rachael Hamby says a good way to meet that goal is to use the Antiquities Act to protect areas lawmakers have tried and failed to conserve for years.

“It’s purely a partisan gridlock issue that is holding up these bills,” she said. “President Biden has the power to bypass our dysfunctional Congress and protect millions of acres that are currently at risk of mining, drilling, and other forms of degradation. There’s no time to wait.”

The deadlock in Congress could be due to many factors. Some lawmakers are hesitant to put more land under the control of the federal government.

In the Mountain West, proposed bills that have continually failed focus on the Ruby Mountains in Nevada, the Buffalo Tract in New Mexico, the San Juan Mountains of Colorado and the red rock canyons of Utah.

This story was produced by the Mountain West News Bureau, a collaboration between Wyoming Public Media, Nevada Public Radio, Boise State Public Radio in Idaho, KUNR in Nevada, the O'Connor Center for the Rocky Mountain West in Montana, KUNC in Colorado, KUNM in New Mexico, with support from affiliate stations across the region. Funding for the Mountain West News Bureau is provided in part by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

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