Conservation Group Calls on Senators to Fully Fund the Land and Water Conservation Fund
Western Values Project launched a campaign calling on Senators McSally (R-AZ), Gardner (R-CO), and Daines (R-MT) to uphold their promise to permanently and fully funding the Land and Water Conservation Fund. The campaign utilizes digital, print, and billboard advertising in three states to urge people to put pressure on their senator. The campaign includes three websites targeting the senators: TellMcSally.org, TellGardner.org, and TellDaines.org.
It’s time for Western Senators McSally, Gardner, and Daines to stop dragging their feet,” said Chris Saeger, Executive Director of the Western Values Project, in a statement. All three senators committed to fully funding the LWCF. Saeger points out that “we need leadership on this issue.” The senators need to “ stand up to the special interests blocking LWCF funding and be a visible champion for their constituents and for America’s public lands.”
The LWCF needs full and dedicated funding
Earlier this year, a bill passed both the Senate and House that permanently reauthorizes the LWCF. President Trump signed it into law. The bill’s passage represented a victory for conservationists, but the program needs dedicated funding. Trump’s most recent budget proposal nearly wiped out the program’s budget.
A senate bill introduced in April would provide full and dedicated funding to the LWCF. It would guarantee the program receives the $900 million authorized for it. The bill has bipartisan support as a Democrat, Senator Joe Manchin (WV) and a Republican, Senator Cory Gardner (CO) introduced the bill with a bipartisan group of 12 co-sponsors. A House bill introduced in June would also provide full and dedicated funding to the program, and like its senatorial counterpart, it also has bipartisan support.
The LWCF is important for public land conservation
Congress created the LWCF in 1964 as a way to protect natural areas, water resources, and cultural heritage sites. Through it, national parks, including the Grand Canyon and the Great Smoky Mountains, national wildlife refuges, national forests, community parks, trails, and ball fields in all 50 states are protected through federal funds from the LWCF. Over $900 million in royalties from energy companies for oil and gas drilling on the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) are put into the fund every year.
The LWCF Coalition points out that almost every year, Congress diverts funds intended to protect natural resources which has resulted in a “backlog of federal conservation needs estimated at more than $30 billion.” State governments report needing $27 billion in LWCF funds for eligible recreation projects and local parks. The LWCF’s state grant program supports state park systems, which contribute $20 billion to local and state economies.
Outdoor activities such as hunting, fishing, camping, and hiking contribute $887 billion a year to the economy and supports 7.6 million American jobs, according to the Outdoor Industry Association. The LWCF has been instrumental in protecting Western states’ public land. The LWCF invested more than $243 million over the last five decades in Arizona and supported over 30 projects to improve public lands in the state, which include improvements to all three of Arizona’s national parks.
How you can take action
There is a way for you to take action and let Congress know you support full and dedicated funding for the LWCF. Sign the Western Values Project petition urging the Senate to support fully and permanently funding it.