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Bill funds federal outdoor recreation programs through September

At least federal recreation lands won't face another shutdown through September. On Friday, Jan. 17, President Barack Obama signed the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2014 (H.R. 3547) funding the federal government for the rest of the fiscal year.

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The National Park Service (NPS) gets a $28.5 million budget increase. The bill provides NPS with about $2.6 billion overall. NPS' budget includes $137,461,000 for construction, repair and improvements to facilities. The bill allows for some NPS seasonal hiring.

The bill also provides $5.5 billion for the U.S. Forest Service and requires the agency to report on its actions to improve public access for hunting, fishing, shooting and other recreational activities.

The Fish & Wildlife Service gets a $32 million budget cut, with funding about $1.4 billion. The total includes $54,422,000 to buy new land.

The Bureau of Land Management gets exactly $956,875,000. Of this, it can use $19,463,000 for the Land & Water Conservation Fund to buy new land and waters.

In other matters concerning outdoor recreation, the law extends through FY 16 the Virginia Graeme Baker Pool and Spa Safety Act, which requires drain covers on public pools and spas.

And in Washington, DC right at the footsteps of the Capitol, the bill provides $11,856,000 for the Capitol Botanic Gardens and $1 million for the struggling Dwight D. Eisenhower Memorial Commission, which is beset by controversy over the design of a monument to the general and president.

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