Land and Water Conservation Fund in Jeopardy
The Land and Water Conservation Fund is in trouble. The LWCF is one of America’s premier conservation programs, responsible for protecting parks, trails, wildlife refuges and recreation areas at the federal, state and local level. It has enjoyed bipartisan support for more than 50 years through 10 Administrations to provide critical funding for land and water preservation projects and access to recreation sites including hunting and fishing areas, and the continued historic preservation of our nation’s iconic landmarks from coast-to-coast. More than 650 of the 2200 mile Appalachian Trail has been moved from privately owned to publicly owned land in large part because of funds available from the LWCF.
LWCF does not use taxpayer dollars – it is funded using a small portion of revenues from offshore oil and gas royalty payments. Outdoor recreation, conservation and historic preservation activities contribute more than a trillion dollars annually to the U.S. economy, supporting 9.4 million jobs. Studies indicate that the return on investment to local economies for a LWCF funded project frequently exceeds 2:1, and are greater than this on the regional and national scale.
Without continuation of the LWCF program, land tracts critical to completing the Appalachian Trail corridor will be extremely challenging to secure, National Historical Parks that preserve important Civil War sites will remain incomplete, incongruous inholdings in National Forests will not be purchased, and access to many fishing and hunting areas will remain difficult. The LWCF serves many crucial needs to conserve America's natural and historic resources. Its continuation is necessary if we are to preserve a representative legacy of these resources for this and future generations.
This important program that is critical to filling out the AT's corridor will expire September 30 of this year unless it is reauthorized by Congress. Bills to accomplish this are languishing in Congressional sub-committees, with no indication that the relevant sub-committee chairs intend to hold hearings, mark up a reauthorization bill, and report it out to the floor for action.
Responding to this situation, 120 House members have signed on to cosponsor a bill, H.R. 502 that is being held hostage in the House Natural Resources Committee. Additional cosponsors will be required to move this bill for floor action. You can help by contacting your Congressional representative to let him or her know of your support, and request that your representative cosponsor H.R. 502, if she or he has not already done so.
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PATC Conservation Chair