U.S. Forest Service approves protection of Colorado’s Sweetwater Lake, but big questions remain | PostIndependent.com
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U.S. Forest Service approves protection of Colorado’s Sweetwater Lake, but big questions remain

Jason Blevins
The Colorado Sun
The Conservation Fund purchased the 488-acre Sweetwater Lake area this week, marking the first step toward public ownership of the site.
Todd Winslow Pierce / Eagle Valley Wild

The White River National Forest’s request for Land and Water Conservation Fund money to permanently protect Garfield County’s Sweetwater Lake — a pristine oasis surrounded by public lands —  has been granted.

But the agency did not say how much of the requested $8.5 million from the fund will be distributed. That’s just one of several recent examples of foot dragging by Trump Administration land managers who have missed critical deadlines imposed by the Great American Outdoors Act, a sweeping public lands bill that President Donald Trump promoted to help buoy Republican senators facing tough re-election bids in the West. 

The Forest Service on Friday released its 2021 list of Land and Water Conservation Fund projects for state grants under the Forest Legacy Program and for land acquisition. The list was due Nov. 2 as part of the passage this summer of the Great American Outdoors Act, which promised to whittle down an estimated $20 billion in deferred maintenance on public lands and directed $900 million a year into the Land and Water Conservation Fund. (The fund is supported by oil and gas royalties paid by energy companies exploring and drilling on federal land and water.)

The Great American Outdoors Act requires the Forest Service and the Department of Interior to submit “a detailed description of each project, including the estimated expenditures from the fund for the project for applicable fiscal years,” by Nov. 2. Both agencies missed that deadline. The list released Friday by the Forest Service also lacked the dollar figures required by the legislation. 

Read more via The Colorado Sun.

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