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Save Forest Legacy -- Call Your Senators Today

Advocates Alert: June 19, 2012

6/20/12 PM Update:

Great News--Senate Votes Our Way on Both Amendments!

This afternoon the Senate voted 21-77 to reject an amendment by Senator Mike Lee (R-UT) that would have eliminated the Forest Legacy Program. See how your senators voted.

Later, they unanimously agreed to an amendment by Senators Michael Bennet (D-CO) and Mike Crapo (R-ID) to clarify the federal role in funding land trust purchases of Agricultural Land Easements.

Look for full details when the Senate approves the overall bill on Thursday afternoon.

6/20/12 Update:

Vote to Clarify the Federal Role on Ag Land Easements

It turns out one of our amendments will be among the 45 voted on today! Please call your senators ASAP and ask them to support the Bennet/Crapo amendment #2202. (Switchboard: 202-224-3121).

Many agricultural landowners are uncomfortable with the idea of selling an easement to the Federal Government. Bennet/Crapo #2202 clarifies that USDA is providing funds for eligible entities (land trusts) to purchase easements, rather than purchasing them itself, and that its right to enforce an easement only comes into play as a backup authority. It also makes other important technical corrections. Click here to read more about this amendment (and Bennet/Crapo #2203, an important amendment on matching requirements which we hope will be included in the House and the final bill).

Urge Your Senators to Oppose the Lee Amendment

The Senate will vote late today or early tomorrow on a farm bill amendment by Senator Mike Lee (R-UT), which would eliminate the Forest Legacy Program!

Please call both of your senators TODAY (switchboard: 202-224-3121), ask for their agriculture staffers, and urge them to oppose Senator Lee's Farm Bill amendment #2313. Your senators' help defeating this amendment will help to clear the slate of similar amendments and move the Farm Bill forward.

The Forest Legacy Program is a voluntary program of the US Forest Service that provides grants to states for the purchase of conservation easements on threatened forest lands. More background.

As Senate Votes, Focus Shifts to the House

Starting at 2:15 pm Eastern Time the Senate will begin voting on 73 Farm Bill amendments, followed by a final vote on the Farm Bill itself (watch live video).

The three good amendments promoted in our June 8 alert are not on the list, but thanks to the work of Senator Michael Bennet (D-CO), some of these changes may still be included as "technical corrections." [UPDATE: The Bennet/Crapo Amendment #2202 will actually get a vote! See above.] Watch the web version of this alert for updates on Senate passage or email lsherrod@lta.org to be added to our Farm Bill email list.

House Agriculture Committee Chairman Frank Lucas (R-OK) is finalizing his own Farm Bill draft, which could be released later this week and voted on as soon as June 27. If you're represented by a member of the House Agriculture Committee, please call his or her agriculture staffer ASAP. Urge them to weigh in with the Chairman to support the Senate funding levels for Agricultural Land Easements and fix some crucial details from the Senate bill. If receptive, ask for the staffer's email address and forward the following:

If you connect with ag staffers in the house, please let us know what you hear.

Thanks for helping.

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