Op-Ed: A Call to Action in Support of the Land & Water Conservation Fund
Guest Editorial By Jeff Lambert, Executive Director, Dishman Hills Conservancy
The terrific Land and Water Conservation Fund lapsed due to Congress inaction. The LWCF has been successful for 50 years in funding many local parks and conservation areas using a small portion of the royalties paid to the federal government from oil and gas leases. Money from the program is used to buy land for wildlife habitat, water access, city parks and recreation.
$637 million has been spent in Washington State, including some of our favorite places for outdoor recreation such as Mt. Rainier, the Pacific Crest Trail, the Columbia Gorge Scenic Area and the Alpine Lakes Wilderness Area.
Eighteen Spokane County projects have received LWCF grant funding, including Riverside State Park, Turnbull National Wildlife Refuge, Dragoon Creek Campground, Highbridge Park, Little Spokane River Natural Area, Mt. Spokane State Park and many others.
My favorite is a LWCF grant that Spokane County received in 1969 to buy 117-acres in the Dishman Hills. The Dishman Hills Conservancy had already purchased an adjoining 80-acres, and the LWCF grant triggered a remarkable County-DHC partnership that now includes about 2,500 acres in the Dishman Hills for recreation and conservation.
Another good example of the recreation impact is the recent Big Sheep Creek acquisition – an in-holding of the Colville National Forest that includes 2.1 miles of the Pacific Northwest Trail along with 2,440 acres of terrific wildlife habitat. Closing the gap helps the nascent Pacific Northwest Trail be an equal partner to the Pacific Crest Trail. Big Sheep Creek is one of the most pristine streams in Washington State as it winds around a beautiful valley. Protecting this forever and providing public access gives us a wonderful place to enjoy the outdoors.
Recently, I joined a large group of conservation, recreation and hunting representatives to ask Senator Cantwell and Rep. McMorris Rodgers to take a leadership role in authorizing the LWCF. The LWCF has strong bipartisan support. There is no reason not to continue this successful program except Congress has not acted. Let’s take action to support our passion for the outdoors by contacting our congressional delegation to ask for their leadership to authorize the Land and Water Conservation Fund. Call or email and ask them to pass the Land and Water Conservation Fund using the contact info below. // (Jeff Lambert)