Congress fails our parks, forests and natural areas
DENVER, CO – America’s most important conservation program vanished at the stroke of midnight, putting some of the nation’s and Colorado’s most treasured parks, forests, and other landscapes at risk.
The fate of the Land and Water Conservation Fund was sealed when the Senate adjourned last evening without acting on a final effort by Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.) to reauthorize the fund before the end of the government’s fiscal year.
For 50 years, the Land and Water Conservation Fund used a portion of drilling proceeds to support more than 40,000 parks, wildlife refuges, and other projects in every state in the country.
In Colorado, since the inception of the LWCF program 1965, nearly 1,000 LWCF grants totaling more than $61 million have leveraged over $147 million for local government and state park outdoor recreational investments.
The program’s termination means critical conservation needs estimated at over $30 billion nationally will go unmet for now, increasing development pressure on recreation areas across our state and on critical landmarks nationally like parts of Florida’s Everglades, Petrified National Forest in Arizona, and more.
Environment Colorado’s director Kim Stevens issued the following statement:
“The Land and Water Conservation Fund fosters what author Wallace Stegner called ‘America’s best idea’—that precious landscapes should be set aside for all, forever; not sold or given to private interests for short-term gain. Despite broad, bipartisan support among both politicians and the public for this uniquely American notion, Congress has never lived up to the promise of the land protection fund, robbing it nearly every year of hundreds of millions of dollars. Now, by allowing America’s most important conservation program to expire, congressional leaders have flat-out failed our parks, forests, and treasured natural areas.
“The only consolation for the tens of millions of Americans who enjoy our parks every year is that only a small number of congressional members are standing in the way of reinstating and funding the Land and Water Conservation Fund. We need the rest of our politicians to come together, and renew the promise to preserve the best of America.”