The bipartisan legislation, co-sponsored by Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., includes elements that could transform conservation and climate-change efforts in the region.
The U.S. Senate Tuesday passed a rare, bipartisan bill that will bolster some public lands and help others prepare for climate change.
The sprawling, omnibus bill, a collection of more than 100 measures previously introduced in the Senate, was passed with 92 senators approving and 8 voting against.
Sen. Maria Cantwell, a Democrat from Washington state, shepherded the bill through the chamber, along with Lisa Murkowski, a Republican from Alaska. Patty Murray, also a Washington Democrat, voted in approval as well.
The U.S. House of Representatives is expected to take up a version of it soon, beginning in the House Natural Resources Committee.
Nationally, the headline item in the bill is the recently lapsed Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF). The bill would permanently reauthorize the fund, which provides money for federal, state and local conservation projects.
[Here’s what the massive public-lands bill means for conservation, climate change in Washington state]
In Washington state, the bill would prevent new mining activities on federal land in the Methow Valley, authorize federal involvement in a multibillion-dollar plan to use water more efficiently in the Yakima basin over 30 years and create a volcano early warning system. The bill would also explore new technology for fighting wildfire, like drones and GPS tracking; facilitate the construction of target-shooting facilities on federal land and give Seattle’s Nordic Museum a national designation.
In addition, much of the I-90 corridor would be designated as a National Heritage Area called the Mountains to Sound Greenway, opening up federal funding opportunities in the region.