Federal conservation fund set to expire
The Land and Water Conservation Fund will expire at the end of September unless Congress reauthorizes the program, according to a news release from the Washington Wildlife and Recreation Coalition.
In Washington state, the LWCF has invested close to $600 million in more than 600 projects, including some in Kittitas County, according to a 2014 report.
The Land and Water Conservation Fund was created by Congress in 1965, and is the nation’s premier federal grant program for conservation and outdoor recreation.
In Kittitas County, it has helped pay for projects such as the Alpine Lakes Wilderness, Mountains to Sound Greenway, Pacific Crest Trail, Ellensburg Pool, Wanapum State Park, W. Ellensburg Park, Yakima River Access, the I-90 Wildlife Corridor and the L.T. Murray Wildlife Area, among others.
The program uses no taxpayer money, but instead works with $900 million received from offshore oil and gas lease revenue to invest in parks and outdoor recreation opportunities.
U.S. Rep. Dave Reichert, who represents Kittitas County in the 8th Congressional District, participated in a conference call last month organized by the Washington Wildlife and Recreation Coalition about the fund’s reauthorization.
“I’m also an original co-sponsor of legislation to reauthorize LWCF to ensure that we continue to have opportunities to visit forest, parks, battlefields, enjoy the wildlife across our great nation,” Reichert said on the call. “I still continue to believe, and I know you do, conserving our national heritage is a priority. It will continue to be a priority as long as I am holding this office.”
If the bill is passed, it would permanently reauthorize Land and Water Conservation Fund. Rep. Derek Kilmer, who represents the 6th Congressional District, Patti Case of Green Diamond Resource Company and Mike Dawson of the Pacific Crest Trail Association also participated on the call.