Don’t let politicians kill conservation’s bank account – High Country News

We find ourselves once again trying to save a very valuable resource to many smaller rural communities, the Land and Water Conservation Fund. Last year we also fought this battle. So please take a moment to read what this about, and send a letter to your representative asking to remember to save  it.

If you are under 50, you grew up in a country with city parks, zoos, tennis courts and basketball courts funded by the Land and Water Conservation Fund. If you camp, boat, hunt and fish, you probably use boat ramps and wildlife habitat secured with its money. The fund’s money has supported projects in 99 percent of counties in the United States.

https://www.hcn.org/articles/opinion-dont-let-politicians-kill-the-land-water-conservation-fund?utm_source=wcn1&utm_medium=email

UPDATE FROM REPRESENTATIVE DEREK KILMER:

I wrote to Rep. Kilmer this morning and received the following email reply:

Thank you for contacting me about the importance of supporting conservation of our lands and waters. I appreciate you taking the time to share your thoughts with me.

Like you, one of the reasons I enjoy living in our region is because I value the richness of our environment. There wasn’t a summer of my childhood that didn’t involve going hiking in the Olympics or fishing with my dad and my brothers. Those experiences had a profound effect on me, and instilled in me the belief that these treasures are our birthright. We owe it to the generations that have come before and those that will come after – including to my two little girls – to protect the home that’s been left in our care.

One of the ways the federal government supports these efforts is through the Land and Water Conservation Fund.  Congress created the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) in 1964. It preserves, develops, and ensures access to outdoor recreation areas and facilities. It provides matching grants to help states leverage their own funds to provide outdoor recreation facilities for their communities. For example, through LCWF grants, the City of Bremerton enhanced Blueberry Park and protected seven acres of wetlands. In Port Angeles, the fund contributed to building a new playground in Shane Park (the park where I played soccer – and lost a lot of games – as a kid). I support this grant program that has helped our region and people across Washington state to enjoy fun, safe recreational facilities and preserve and protect public lands.

Rep. Raul Grijalva (Ariz.) introduced H.R. 502, to permanently reauthorize the Land and Water Conservation Fund. I support this legislation and am proud to be a cosponsor. I feel strongly that this program should be made permanent and should be fully funded.

Since its introduction,the bill has been referred to the House Committee on Natural Resources where it awaits further action. I am hopeful that the Committee will hold a hearing on it soon so that we can learn more about the importance of the work funded by the LWCF.

Please know that as a member of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies, I will continue to be a vocal advocate for the conservation of our lands and waters. We’ve got a lot of work to do to advance these important priorities.

I encourage you to continue to share your views with me on this topic or any other issue. Thank you for reaching out. It is an honor to serve as your representative.

 

Republicans kill the Land and Water Conservation Fund

One of the most successful conservation programs in the Federal Government, The Land and Water Conservation Fund, has been allowed to sunset by the Republican controlled Congress. This program, which has been supported for 50 years by both parties, up to now. What is it? What good has it done? Why not let it die?

According to the Land and Water Fund Coalition,

The LWCF state assistance program provides matching grants to help states and local communities protect parks and recreation resources. LWCF funding has benefited nearly every county in America, supporting over 41,000 projects. From building hiking and biking trails, to improving community parks, playgrounds and ballfields, this 50:50 matching program is the primary federal investment tool to ensure that families have easy access to public, open spaces.

Rep. Rob Bishop, a Republican from Utah who chairs the House Natural Resources Committee is the person responsible for this change, even though his state benefits from it.

If we just focus on Washington State, this program has used some of the royalties from off shore oil and gas leasing, (not tax dollars from US citizens) to fund a wide variety of projects, from maintenance of Mount Rainier’s Carbon River bridges, Alpine Lakes Wilderness, The Moses Coulee, North Cascades National Park, Mt St. Helens, the list goes on and on and can be found here http://www.lwcfcoalition.org/washington.html.

Closer to home, here on the Olympic Peninsula, this program has funded, over the last 50 years, the Bogachiel River Boat Launch repair, maintenance at Clallam Bay, Clallam Bay Spit development, Freshwater Bay development, Snow Creek Renovation, Salt Creek County Parks renovation, and the Shane Park Playground in Port Angeles. Remember, Clallam County usually votes Republican, and this is what you are getting folks for your support of that party, which now controls the purse strings at the Federal Level.

In Jefferson County, Fort Worden State Park was funded with over $156, 000, The Hoh River Boat Launch, Kai Tai Park, Fort Worden Breakwater, and the Point Whitney (south in the county on Hood Canal) acquisition all were supported by funding from this program. You can find the entire list of funded projects here: http://www.nps.gov/lwcf/index.htm

What did Congress want to use the funds for? They want to give this money to the oil and gas industry for employee training. You read that right. They want to give the money to private enterprises to offset their employee training, which will make them more profitable by not having to spend that money themselves.

What can you do? There is a letter called the “Dear Colleagues” that is a method that Congress uses to show support for various funding programs.  Representative Derek Kilmer has yet to sign one, while most of our other representatives have. (see the list at the bottom of the page here (http://www.lwcfcoalition.org/washington.html). Call or email Derek and ask him to sign one now.  UPDATE: Representative Kilmer’s Olympic Peninsula Field Representative Judith Morris wrote back this morning to let me know that Representative Kilmer has in fact signed a letter sent by 129 Democratic members of the House ( and a similar letter was penned by many Republicans), to reauthorize the Fund.

In the letter sent last week, the members wrote: “LWCF is our nation’s premier program to help local communities protect the places they love. It has conserved iconic landscapes in every state and is responsible for more than 40,000 state and local outdoor recreation projects such as playgrounds, parks, refuges, and baseball fields.”

It goes on to state that Rep. Kilmer is a cosponsor of a bill that would permanently reauthorize the LWCF.

If you happen to live in a county that has a Republican representing you at the Federal level, give them a piece of your mind. If you belong to an organization that supports outdoor recreation in any form, get them to act nationally. And vote idiots like Rob Bishop out next year. He has wasted an enormous amount of time from Congress for an idea that no one but him and other oil and gas funded Congresspeople wants to see implemented.

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