Conservationists have reason to celebrate the budget agreement passed today, thanks to Senator Patty Murray (D-WA).
The deal includes a reserve fund for our nation’s premier conservation program, the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF), leaving room in the budget for legislation to fully fund the program at $900 million as it was intended.
“Today’s vote in favor of the Bipartisan Budget Act is a vote of confidence in the value of LWCF,” said Hannah Clark, LWCF Campaign Director for the Washington Wildlife and Recreation Coalition. “We thank Washington’s own Senator Patty Murray for her tireless work on behalf of our outdoor heritage.”
Created by Congress in 1965, LWCF is the nation’s premier federal grant program for conservation and outdoor recreation. However, year after year Congress diverts a majority of LWCF funds for unrelated purposes, leaving critical projects unfunded.
LWCF has protected America’s most treasured landscapes from the Grand Canyon to Mt. Rainer and the Mountains to Sound Greenway right here in Washington. The program uses no taxpayer dollars. Instead, $900 million in offshore oil and gas lease revenue is meant to be invested in parks and outdoor recreation opportunities each year.
The deficit-neutral reserve fund for LWCF is a milestone in the effort to ensure the oil and gas dollars go toward conservation.
The budget legislation also contains modest relief from the sequester cuts that have seriously impaired the Department of the Interior’s ability to conserve and protect our nation’s parks and public lands.
In Washington, our $22.5 billion outdoor recreation economy supports 227,000 direct jobs and the high quality of life that draws talented workers and businesses.
A video about how LWCF recently protected a living laboratory for 9,000 students in Bothell can be viewed here.
About the Coalition
The Washington Wildlife and Recreation Coalition is a non-profit citizens group founded in a historic bipartisan effort by former Governors Dan Evans and Mike Lowry. The Coalition promotes public funding for Washington’s outdoors through the state Washington Wildlife and Recreation Program and the federal Land and Water Conservation Fund. Members consist of a diverse group of over 280 organizations representing conservation, business, recreation, hunting, fishing, farming and community interests. The breadth and diversity of the Coalition are the keys to its success — no one member could secure such a high level of funding for parks and habitat on its own.