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The Louisiana black bear — the inspiration for the teddy bear — has made an awe-inspiring comeback from the brink of extinction. But now, the once-endangered animal, along with countless other animals nationwide, risks losing habitat that was critical to its recovery.
The Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) has protected millions of acres in nearly every county in the U.S., and all the animals that live in them, for more than 50 years. The landmark legislation funded the protection of lands that enabled the Louisiana black bear to stage its comeback from as few as 80 bears in the 1980s to as many as 750 bears today.
But now, the very existence of this vital program is at risk. Congress let it expire last year — and then reauthorized it for only three years. That's why we must push for permanent reauthorization and full funding NOW or else every few years LWCF could expire again. And that means the habitats it sustains — like the Tensas River National Wildlife Refuge, home to the Louisiana black bear — risk losing critical funding.