Senators Introduce Bipartisan Bill to Permanently Authorize, Fully Fund the Land and Water Conservation Fund
Washington, D.C. -- Today, U.S. Senators Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), Richard Burr (R-N.C.) and 20 other senators introduced bipartisan legislation to permanently authorize and fully fund the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF), which conserves and promotes access to America’s national parks, forests and public lands. After expiring for the first time in 50 years, Congress voted in December 2015 to extend the program’s authorization for only three years.
“In Washington state, we are hikers, bikers, anglers, climbers, skiers and so much more. The LWCF lets us continue to explore our beautiful state by setting aside some of its most precious lands, while helping keep our economy humming and providing 227,000 Washingtonians with good jobs. For decades, the LWCF has brought together public and private resources to open access to trails, create wildlife corridors, and preserve our clean air and water. We wouldn’t have some of the best outdoor recreation opportunities, like Olympic National Park and Riverside State Park, without the LWCF,” Sen. Cantwell said.
“The Land and Water Conservation Fund protects our natural treasures. I’m proud to work with Sen. Cantwell to make sure this program continues so that future generations can enjoy North Carolina’s most beautiful places and that the program has the resources it needs to continue conservation initiatives across the country,” Sen. Burr said.
Outdoor recreation drives economic growth, creates jobs and produces significant revenues for local communities. The Land and Water Conservation Fund is the key federal investment in a sector that has supported more than 6 million American jobs and contributes $600 billion annually to our nation’s economy.
The LWCF, established in 1965, funds the purchase and development of parks, wildlife refuges and recreation resources of federal, state, and local lands and facilities. The program provides funding for additions to national parks, national wildlife refuges, national forests and other federal public lands used for outdoor recreation and habitat preservation. The LWCF also funds important projects that protect drinking water resources, sensitive habitat for fish and wildlife, and private forestland. The state component of the program provides matching grants to states and localities for investments in outdoor recreation facilities, such as parks and playfields.
“The Land and Water Conservation Fund has proven to be a spectacular investment for the places that make this country special, for the people who benefit from access to those places for hunting, fishing and camping, and for the local communities that host these truly remarkable resources,” Sen. Wyden (D-Ore.) said. “Fully funding this program will allow communities across the country to continue protecting our nation’s public lands and providing access for the outdoor activities Americans enjoy.”
“In Minnesota, generations of families have enjoyed our state's land, waterways and natural resources for hunting, fishing and many other recreational activities,” said Sen. Franken (D-Minn.). "For over 50 years, the Land and Water Conservation Fund has helped states across our nation be stewards for millions of acres of land. It’s helped protect parks like Voyageurs National Park in Minnesota and areas that provide clean drinking water for Americans, valuable habitat for fish and wildlife, and outdoor activities for families. I look forward to working with my colleagues to get this legislation passed.”
“The Land and Water Conservation Fund is a critical tool that expands public access for folks who hunt, hike and fish on our public lands—at no cost to taxpayers,” said Sen. Tester (D-Mont.) said. “There are still too many politicians who are trying to block our ability to increase public access, despite our growing outdoor economy. That’s why it is time to fully fund and permanently reauthorize this successful initiative.”
Original co-sponsors of the bill include Sens. Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), Richard Burr (R-N.C.), Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Robert Casey (D-Pa.), Chris Coons (D-Del.), Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Al Franken (D-Minn.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Joe Manchin (D-W.V.), Ed Markey (D-Mass.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Bernie Sanders (D-Vt.), Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii), Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), Jon Tester (D-Mont.) and Ron Wyden (D-Ore.).
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