Letter: Congress needs to act on Land and Water Conservation Fund
“The other Washington” can sometimes seem far away from our corner of the lower 48. However, decisions in the nation’s capitol have a huge impact on our lives, right down to the very parks in our town. Indecision has a big impact, as well.
Earlier this month in Congress, the Land and Water Conservation Fund lapsed. The fund gets its money from oil and gas revenues, but putting that money into the fund has to be authorized by Congress.
This funding is not only for famous destinations like Mount Rainier. Money from the fund has supported Washington and Storvik parks right here in Anacortes. It has gone to the Skagit River Park Playfields in Burlington. Across the state, it has helped preserve and maintain the Skagit Wildlife Area, the Mountains to Sound Greenway and scores of other parks.
In fact, the Land and Water Conservation Fund is overwhelmingly popular with the American people because it benefits the outdoors in each state. Everyone benefits from natural areas where families can play, hike, camp, fish, hunt, boat and bike.
There are economic benefits, as well. In our state alone, there are 200,000 jobs tied to the outdoor recreation industry. Residents and visitors spend nearly $22 billion each year on outdoor activities here. Those jobs and that revenue depend on having parks, mountains, rivers and lakes to enjoy.
We Washingtonians can be thankful that our U.S. Sens. Murray and Cantwell recently sent a letter to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell calling for permanent authorization for the Land and Water Conservation Fund. Here in the 2nd District, our U.S. Rep. Rick Larsen supports the fund, and he has colleagues from both sides of the aisle who share his view.
For 50 years, the Land and Water Conservation Fund has served us well. It protects the areas that are vital to our well-being and our economy. Every day, we are losing millions of dollars that could ensure these lands are here for our grandchildren, their grandchildren and us.
“The other Washington” needs to reauthorize the Land and Water Conservation Fund. Our families and our state cannot afford to wait.
Mayor Laurie Gere