Any budget resolution coming from Congress this year must include language that keeps governments at all levels from using the Land and Water Conservation Fund for land grabs, a top House Republican demanded Tuesday.

In a letter sent to Rep. Hal Rogers, chairman of the House Committee on Appropriations, House Committee on Natural Resources Chairman Rob Bishop, R-Utah, made the case for governments to be banned from using eminent domain and condemnation as reasons for buying private property using money from the fund.

Bishop said reforms are needed for the fund, which takes royalties for oil and gas production on federal land and uses them to pay for maintenance on protected lands. Instead of doing maintenance work, the fund is being used by the federal government to buy up new land, Bishop said.

Language in a budget bill could help stop that practice, Bishop said, and he asked Rogers' help in working together on getting it passed.

"The Committee on Natural Resources will continue to educate members of Congress on the failures of the LWCF and work to address these and other improper uses of LWCF funds," Bishop wrote. "As these oversight efforts continue, I respectfully request that the Committee on Appropriations include a prohibition on eminent domain in any upcoming continuing resolution or stop-gap funding measure along with additional safeguards to ensure this prohibition is followed."

Bishop has proposed sending no less than 45 percent of the fund to a program that sends money to states and municipalities that then take care of projects and facilities on protected land. In last year's budget, 25 percent of the LWCF was used for that program.

Bishop wrote that six states allow using that program, which is supposed to be simply for recreation and maintenance, to buy up new land using eminent domain or condemnation. Just seven states prohibit that practice, he said.

The funding bill passed last year had language that included banning eminent domain and condemnation as vehicles for fund dollars to be used for acquiring new land. Bishop said a commitment from Rogers to keep that in the upcoming funding bill would be important.

"Congress has an obligation to evaluate statutes that have been on the books for decades and to ensure that they are being administered by the executive branch in [a] manner that is transparent, accountable and cost-effective for American taxpayers," Bishop wrote. "For laws identified as failing or susceptible to executive abuse, we have a responsibility to refine and improve them."