Land and water funding restored
The Land and Water Conservation Fund was reauthorized for three years in a federal budget deal announced Wednesday, according to a news release from the Washington Wildlife and Recreation Coalition.
The Land and Water Conservation Fund protects parks, trails, working forests and waterways nationwide. It was created by Congress in 1965 as the nation’s premier federal grant program for conservation and outdoor recreation, and expired for the first time ever on Sept. 30.
The budget deal includes $450 million for the fund in 2016, higher than the 2015 level but only half of the program’s full funding level of $900 million, according to the release.
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. In Kittitas County it has helped fund 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 fund uses a percentage from offshore oil and gas sales for projects, according to the release.
U.S. Sens. Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell, U.S. Rep. Dave Reichert, R-Auburn, and six other members of Washington’s delegation have been working to permanently reauthorize the fund.
The Yakima River watershed is one of the projects likely to receive funding from the project in the future, according to the release.