President Trump signed on Tuesday legislation that designates nearly $3 billion annually for conservation projects and maintenance of federally owned lands. The bill was passed with overwhelming majorities in the House and Senate earlier this summer.
At a signing ceremony at the White House, Mr. Trump touted the legislation as “the most significant contribution to our parks” since Theodore Roosevelt, who created five national parks and 18 national monuments during his presidency.
“There hasn’t been anything like this since Teddy Roosevelt, I suspect,” Mr. Trump said.
The legislation permanently funds the Land and Water Conservation Fund, and designates $1.9 billion per year to address the maintenance backlog on federal lands. The funding for this maintenance would be derived from up to 50% of the revenues from the development of “oil, gas, coal, or alternative or renewable energy development on Federal land and water,” according to the text of the bill.
Although the bill had numerous Senate Democratic sponsors, only GOP senators appeared at the White House signing ceremony. Mr. Trump praised Republicans for pushing the legislation through. However, more than half of GOP House members voted against the bill, and all 25 “no” votes in the Senate came from Republicans.
Although the president didn’t acknowledge Democrats in his remarks, some Republican senators did. Colorado Senator Cory Gardner, who is in a tight race for reelection in November, thanked Democratic Senators Joe Manchin and Mark Warner and independent Senator Angus King in his remarks. Montana Senator Steve Daines, another vulnerable Republican up for reelection this year, noted that the legislation was bipartisan.
“This is a big win for conservation, it’s a big win for jobs, it’s a big win for our Montana way of life, it’s a big win for bipartisanship,” Daines said. “Perhaps it’s only fitting it took public lands to bring a divided government together.”
The bill’s supporters say it will create around 100,000 jobs. It also received a boost from Ivanka Trump, the president’s daughter, who advocated for the president to sign it.
“This is an extraordinary piece of legislation that will be a great legacy for this administration and more importantly for this country,” she said in brief remarks.