LETTER: Congress should invest in outdoor recreation
To the editor:
I recently returned from Washington, D.C., where I spoke with our members of Congress about the importance of investing in conservation and outdoor recreation through a little-known federal program with huge impacts: the Land and Water Conservation Fund.
The fund provides essential tools to help build local parks and trails, preserve rural character and protect wild spaces — a win-win for everyone.
This year, Centralia needs a $500,000 grant to repair the Pearl Street Pool. The pool has served thousands of people of all ages each summer, but because of its current state of disrepair, families will miss out on this opportunity.
Water has been leaking from the pool, creating dangerous conditions preventing the pool from reopening. It is our responsibility to provide fun, safe outdoor recreation opportunities for our kids and this project is an inexpensive way to do just that, benefiting our community for years to come.
LWCF is paid for through a small percentage of offshore energy royalties, not taxpayer dollars. The $900 million meant for LWCF is a small investment with broad benefits for outdoor recreation, tourism, rural development and natural resources.
However, most of the funds have been repeatedly diverted to other purposes, leaving communities without critical funding, and the clock is ticking. The program will sunset next year without congressional action.
It was heartening to meet with staff for Sens. Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell, who have cosponsored a bill to renew and fully fund LWCF; our congresswoman Jaime Herrera-Beutler; and the rest of our delegation who are invested in the program’s future. The rest of Congress should follow their lead to invest in outdoor recreation for the benefit of our community and so many others across the nation.