America’s most successful conservation and recreation program has new life
Seattle — The U.S. Senate passed a public lands package today that permanently reauthorizes the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF), a historically bipartisan program that has funded projects in all 50 states since its inception in 1965. The program, which expired last September, has supported everything from the expansion and maintenance of local parks and recreation centers to national forests, national parks and historical sites.
“Our country’s most successful conservation and recreation program has been on life support since it expired in September,” said Bruce Speight, Environment Washington Executive Director. “Thankfully we’re seeing movement on this now, and we applaud the Senate for getting the job done and not letting it fall through the cracks.”
“Senator Cantwell was instrumental in the Senate voting to permanently reauthorize the Land & water conservation fund, and Americans for generations will benefit from her tireless dedication to protecting and enhancing America’s public lands,” added Speight.
Since LWCF funding expired, public lands projects have lost more than $300 million in revenue. While the Senate bill that passed today permanently renews the program, it does not fully fund it at the $900 million a year authorized in the original LWCF bill.
During the months since the program expired, a broad group of conservation and environmental groups pushed Congress to act. On the first day of the World Series, Environment Washington’s national federation, Environment America, handed out baseball cookies to remind members of Congress of all the local baseball fields funded by LWCF. After the midterm elections, the group gave every member of Congress a “#SaveLWCF” rubber duck to keep the program front of mind during the lame-duck session. Other conservation groups also took action.
“To maintain America the Beautiful, we need to protect our public lands, and the Senate took a big step toward doing so,” said Speight. “Now the House must act. We’re confident it will, but not so confident that we’ll stop pushing.”
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Environment Washington is a statewide, citizen-based environmental advocacy organization working for a cleaner, greener, healthier future.
For a list of projects funded by LWCF, go to https://www.lwcfcoalition.com/.