LETTER: Fund the great outdoors
For many of us, these winter months mark a season of gratitude for the gifts and blessings of life. One gift that seems to slip beneath our radar time and again is the gift of creation. Washington is well known for aerospace, e-commerce, and tech development, but our true wealth is in our wilderness areas. We must ensure this gift will be preserved for our children and our children’s children.
Therefore I invite our elected leaders in Congress to join me in supporting full funding for the Land and Water Conservation Fund.
Founded in 1965, the fund provided for a small portion of offshore oil and gas revenues to be invested in outdoor recreation and conservation, serving as an offset for the depletion of resources that belong to everyone.
Each year, a majority of these funds are diverted for unrelated spending. In fact, in its nearly 50-year history, it has only twice been fully funded. This has left dozens of projects nationwide unfunded and countless communities without properly designated and maintained trails, parks, and wildlife habitat.
Our economy is also harmed by this broken promise. Public lands support a $22.5 billion outdoor recreation industry, and opportunities for play provide a higher quality of life for hard-working American people. In Washington, we rely on the fund to protect and improve areas like Lake Sammamish, the Pacific Crest Trail, Mount Rainier, and many of our neighborhood parks and playgrounds.
Washington’s leaders understand preserving our land is not a partisan issue, but a cultural and moral obligation. I am grateful to Representative Dave Reichert and Senators Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell for being vocal supporters of the fund.
The fund is essential to our economy, our health, and our heritage. Join the movement – call Congress and ask our elected leaders to keep this important promise to the American people. Together, we will preserve the land and give our children the gift of a future.
The writer is pastor of Sammamish Hills Lutheran Church and avid kayaker and backpacker.