Less than a month after the passing of former U.S. Rep. John Dingell, Congress has honored him by passing a conservation package bearing his name. The legislation now awaits the signature of President Donald Trump.
The John D. Dingell Jr. Conservation, Management and Recreation Act “promotes conservation, recreation, historic preservation and cultural resource protection in Michigan and across the country,” according to the office of U.S. Rep. Debbie Dingell (D-Dearborn), Dingell’s widow who succeeded him in 2015.
The legislation includes designations for 1.3 million acres of new wilderness, protections for a million acres of public lands from mining, and measures estimated to save taxpayers $9 million. The MotorCities National Heritage Area will see an authorization increase of $2 million.
“This landmark public lands legislation is the product of years’ of work and months of bipartisan, bicameral negotiations, and includes support from key conservation, sportsmen, and environmental stakeholders. The provisions in this bill will safeguard our nation’s conservation legacy for decades to come,” said Debbie Dingell.
There are several efforts to preserve African-American history in the package, including protection for the home of civil rights activists Medgar and Myrlie Evers.
The bill expands public lands by:
- Designating more than 1 million acres of wilderness on federal land in California, Oregon, Utah and New Mexico
- Adding five new national recreation areas
- Expanding Joshua Tree National Park, Death Valley National Park and Mojave National Preserve
- Cutting off new mining activities in areas north of Yellowstone National Park and outside North Cascades National Park
“Today, we honored our friend, the late Chairman John Dingell, by signing legislation bearing his name & sending it to the President to become law. The John D. Dingell Jr. Conservation, Management and Recreation Act will ensure Americans can enjoy public lands for years to come!” U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said on Tuesday.
The package of bills includes a permanent authorization of the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF), a program to conserve public land and improve outdoor recreation.
In Michigan, LWCF has already invested more than $329 million to protect forests, wildlife refuges, lakeshores and to increase recreation access. t public lands, historic sites, and increase recreational opportunities.
LWCF has protected places like Detroit River International Wildlife Refuge, Hiawatha National Forest, Keweenaw National Historical Park, North Country National Scenic Trail, Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, Pilgrim River Forest, and Sleepy Hollow State Park.
“John Dingell’s entire life was driven by his love of hunting and fishing, and his passion for the outdoors, protecting our natural resources, and addressing the challenges faced ensuring we conserve America’s wild plants, fish, animals, and their habitats. Had he ever been hired as a full-time park ranger as a young man, he might never have run for Congress,” Dingell said.
“John Dingell is looking down on everyone today and saying well done.”