Letter: Renew conservation fund
Congress has a budget issue. Unfortunately, any deal to fund government will probably exclude one of America’s most beneficial yet under-appreciated programs — the Land and Water Conservation Fund. LWCF benefits Washington residents by conserving critical fish and wildlife habitat, acquiring land for parks, and providing jobs through working forest stewardship.
In Yakima County, LWCF purchased land in Cowiche Creek and the Yakima River Canyon. Both areas protect fish and wildlife habitat while providing public opportunities to enjoy nature. These areas also help support Yakima County’s robust $670 million outdoor economy. Beyond Yakima County, LWCF helps fund Washington’s Mount Rainier, Pacific Crest Trail and Olympic National Forest. These international destinations economically benefit local and state communities while demonstrating the LWCF’s potential.
A unique government program, LWCF is funded by revenue from offshore oil and gas drilling — not taxes. Despite this, taxpayers likely do not understand LWCF accomplishments. As legislators in D.C. dispute government spending programs without proven records, the LWCF is forgotten despite its record of success and no taxpayer burden. Reasonable excuses not to reauthorize LWCF are few and far between. As D.C. emerges from its current budget debacle, I sincerely hope Congress makes LWCF reauthorization a high priority.