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Late in October, President Obama signed the 2010 Interior and Environment Appropriations bill, a massive package of legislation that invests $32.24 billion in our public lands. Much of that money will go to managing our existing federal lands’ infrastructure, but some cash has been set aside to expand our public real estate portfolio. Here are three new Southern land-purchase projects funded by the appropriations bill.

Congaree National Park, S.C.
The bill granted partial funding to add 2,000 acres to Congaree National Park—South Carolina’s only national park and home of the nation’s largest tract of old-growth bottomland hardwood forest. The expansion will unite the park, which currently exists in two separate neighboring units. The new land, which connects the eastern and western portions of the park, is almost completely acquired and will offer a refuge to songbirds, owls, woodpeckers, white-tailed deer, otters and raccoons. The addition will also protect rare trees including dwarf cypress, large swamp cottonwoods and rare water hickories.

Catawba Falls, Pisgah National Forest, N.C.
Representative Heath Shluler (D-N.C.) earmarked $713,000 to buy land surrounding Catawba Falls in Western North Carolina. The purchase will provide permanent access to the 70-foot waterfall near Old Fort, N.C. With the funding, Pisgah National Forest will also likely improve the trail to the falls and enhance parking.

Cummings Tract, Monongahela National Forest, W.Va.
This 448-acre inholding in Pocahontas County, W.Va. is adjacent to key Civil War sites and provides a permanent bridge to national forest lands located along the historic Staunton-Parkersburg national scenic byway. The predominantly forested site includes the headwaters of Deer Creek, a native brook trout stream.

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