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Advocates Push For More Environmental Funds

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Even in the face of steep federal budget cuts, environmental groups are fighting for more money to preserve the Chesapeake Bay and other natural landmarks in the region.

Fifty years ago, lawmakers set up a fund to preserve the nation's local, state and national parks. The Land and Water Conservation Fund is paid for with money that private companies make from drilling off the nation's coast. Last year, it received $900 million, but only about one third of that money actually went to conservation according to Environment America, a group of citizen-funded environmental advocacy groups.

Aaron Weil, who works on preservation issues for the group, wants lawmakers to stop raiding the fund to pay for other parts of the budget.

"The idea is to stop having to have this back and forth on a yearly basis," he says.

Weil says in the past, the fund helped purchase land on the shores of the Chesapeake Bay that were slated for private development. He says that money is vital for the government to protect parks across the country.

"It really gives a critical tool for our Park Service to just provide a buffer zone between human impact and these treasured places," says Weil.

A bipartisan group of senators is pushing the proposal in the upper chamber, but House Republicans may have another idea for the money. With $85 billion in budget cuts slated to hit the government next Friday if Congress doesn't act, lawmakers are looking for savings anywhere they can find it, which means this conservation fund may be raided again this year.

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