Only 50 days to reauthorize our most important conservation program
Conservation Northwest / Aug 12, 2015 / Legislation
Please sign the petition today asking Congress to reauthorize our nation’s most important conservation program.
Content from our friends at The Land and Water Conservation Fund Coalition and Washington Wildlife and Recreation Coalition
Time is ticking down and as of today there are only 50 days left until America’s most important conservation and recreation program expires. The Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF), created in 1964, is a little known program with an enormous impact – it protects urban, state and national parks; trails; wildlife refuges; historic sites; hunting and fishing areas; ball fields and playgrounds for all Americans to enjoy.
Most of the iconic public lands we cherish were protected by LWCF from Rocky Mountain National Park and the Appalachian Trail, to our nation’s history at Gettysburg National Military Park, the Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic Site, and more. But the program, and the places it protects, is threatened this year without action.
In its 50-year history, LWCF has touched every state and 98% of counties, funding over 42,000 state and local conservation and recreation projects. It also boosts the outdoor recreation economy which is a $646 billion dollar industry supporting 6.1 million American jobs.
But LWCF is unique in that it does not use a dime of taxpayer money to protect our nation’s heritage; instead it is funded through a small portion of off-shore oil and gas drilling royalties. The concept is simple: balance the depletion of one American resource -oil and gas- to protect another – our forests, water, and wildlife.
The success of the program has come despite the fact that LWCF has only been fully funded once, with dollars intended for conservation instead going to other programs – putting outdoor recreation and conservation projects across the country on hold and at risk.
If Congress does not act before September 30 of this year, LWCF will not be able to preserve lands threatened by development, make wildlife refuges and parks whole, protect drinking water supplies, and create local parks. And some in Congress want to divert even more funds from the program, or change completely the program that has worked so well for the past 50 years.
But there is hope – there are three bills pending in Congress that show the bipartisan support of the program. These bills were offered by Senator Richard Burr (R-NC), Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA), Congressman Raul Grijalva (D-AZ), and Congressman Mike FItzpatrick (R-PA) calling for reauthorization of LWCF. Please join these champions of your public lands in demanding that this vital program is renewed for all Americans, before it is too late.