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News: The GCA to Focus on Botany Bills, Land and Water Conservation Fund, and Scenic Byways Bills

 

February 26, 2019

Club delegates speaking to congressmen and women from both sides of the aisle

More than 300 delegates from member clubs around the country arrive today on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. as part of the GCA’s annual National Affairs and Legislation Conference. Over the next two days, club delegates will focus on GCA legislative priorities — including Botany Bills, the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) and Scenic Byways legislation.

Reps. Mike Quigley and Rep. Francis Rooney are introducing a bill to Promote Botanical Research and Botanical Sciences Capacity that will address the critical need to utilize native plants to combat invasive species, improve water quality and better withstand wildfires and droughts on public lands. The bill also supports rural livelihoods by strengthening the US market for native plants and seeds. A Senate companion bill is expected.

More than 70 horticultural and environmental organizations have endorsed this legislation including the GCA, the Chicago Botanic Garden, the Center for Plant Conservation, the New York Botanical Garden and the National Tropical Botanical Garden. A panel of distinguished speakers from American botanical gardens will address the legislation during the conference.

Delegates will also be focusing on the Land and Water Conservation Fund. On February 12, the U.S. Senate overwhelmingly approved the permanent reauthorization of the Land and Water Conservation Fund when it passed a massive lands bill, S. 47, the Natural Resources Management Act. The LWCF, which is supported by dedicated revenues from offshore drilling, annually provides funding for public land acquisition and matching grants for state and local parks and recreation projects. It has been a long-time focus of the GCA’s legislative efforts.

Another GCA priority, scenic byways, is on the docket. Earlier this month, the U.S. House of Representatives passed H.R. 831, Reviving America’s Scenic Byways Act of 2019, 404-19. Scenic byways protect America’s scenic and historic places and limit the placement of unsightly billboards along designated highways. The Senate is expected to take up a companion Bill, S. 349.

Congress’ recent votes supporting the LWCF and Scenic Byways come in the wake of two GCA Calls to Action to promote passage of the bills. “We applaud Congress for taking long-overdue action on these important conservation initiatives,” said Hollidae Morrison, chairman of the National Affairs and Legislation Committee of the GCA. “We look forward to continuing our advocacy until all these measures have been adopted."

Top photo credit: Sarah Barringer 

 

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