President Trump on Tuesday signed a bipartisan bill that permanently funds the nation's biggest natural resource conservation program.
State environmental groups say the Great American Outdoors Act, backed by New Hampshire’s Congressional delegation, is a milestone that's been decades in the making.
The bill guarantees full annual funding for the Land and Water Conservation Act. It’s supposed to give out $900 million a year through states and other partners for conservation projects, but, until now, has typically only offered half of that.
"Our natural lands are going to be so much better off,” says Mark Zankel, the state executive director for the Nature Conservancy. “We'll be able to conserve more of the places that matter to New Hampshire, and we and our partners will be able to better take care of them."
The funding will go to conservation projects and deferred maintenance on public lands, such as the White Mountain National Forest.
Zankel says it should allow the creation of more working forest conservation easements to expand protected natural areas in New Hampshire -- which he says will also help the state sequester carbon emissions and fight climate change.