Senator Henry “Scoop” Jackson fishing with his son.
On September 3rd, America celebrates an important milestone: the 50th anniversary of the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF). For five decades, LWCF has protected places to camp, hike, hunt and fish – major economic drivers for rural and urban communities alike.
Washington’s congressional leaders have played a key role in the program’s history since the beginning. Few know that it was Washington Senator Henry “Scoop” Jackson who introduced the original Land and Water Conservation Fund Act to the Senate 50 years ago. Then, as now, the program received overwhelming bipartisan support, passing the House on a unanimous voice vote and the Senate 91-1, and was signed into law by President Johnson on September 3, 1964.
Now, the Act could expire without congressional action, meaning this critical tool could disappear forever – but you can help!
This year, LWCF funding needs include:
Protecting Cascade slopes along the Pacific Crest Trail,
Land along Lewis and Clark’s historic route along the Columbia River,
Renovating the fishing pier in Edmonds,
Investing in the Washougal economy through a waterfront trail, and many other community priorities across the state.
The House recently released their “chairman’s mark” for LWCF with only $152 million for LWCF, and the Senate has proposed $340 million. While both proposals show momentum towards a solution for the program, they are nowhere near the full $900 million it was intended, illustrating the need for a funding solution to make LWCF a true trust fund. (For a great wonky breakdown of LWCF appropriations, check out the Trust for Public Land’s Washington Watch blog)
Fortunately, our leaders understand the importance of LWCF, especially as demand for outdoor recreation opportunities increases faster every year.
Senators Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell have both taken a stand, joining as co-sponsors of a bill that would reauthorize LWCF with full, dedicated funding. Washington’s members of congress on both sides of the aisle, including Representatives DelBene, Heck, Herrera Beutler, Kilmer, McDermott, Larsen, Reichert and Smith have stood up for LWCF.
On September 3rd, the Wildlife and Recreation Coalition will release a report on the LWCF’s legacy of success in Washington State. It is a call to action for Congress to ensure the next 50 years of protecting our natural and cultural treasures by reauthorizing and fully funding the program. We’ll share it with our members, so be on the lookout!