Reduced conservation bill passes Congress

Posted: Sunday, December 17, 2000

ANCHORAGE (AP) -- The much-reduced version of Sen. Frank Murkowski and Rep. Don Young's conservation lands legislation passed Friday as part of Congress' final spending bill.

The bill proposed by the two Republican lawmakers provides $1.6 billion a year nationwide for land conservation, wildlife protection and parks programs.

That includes roughly $85 million in additional federal funding for Alaska. Under the original Conservation and Reinvestment Act, Alaska would have received about double that, or $164 million annually.

While not as sweeping as the original legislation, Murkowski applauded the appropriations that make up the compromise ''CARA lite.''

''Passage of the full CARA bill is still our goal, but providing many of the elements in this year's appropriations bills is a good first step,'' said Murkowski, chairman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee.

The original bill ran into opposition because it would have created a 15-year entitlement program; states would have automatically received money each year. Under a compromise cut in October, money will be appropriated year-by-year.

This year the money was folded into two bills. Most of it was passed earlier as part the Interior spending bill. But on Friday, another $400 million was added to the program for fisheries assistance as part of the omnibus spending bill.

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