Coalition of 280 businesses, nonprofits thank Senators Murray & Cantwell for leadership during conservation vote

January 29, 2015

Majority of Senate votes for Burr-Bennett-Ayotte Amendment; nearly adopted 59-39

Washington state Senators Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell voted today to permanently reauthorize the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF).

Both Senators also co-sponsored the Burr-Bennett-Ayotte amendment which fell just one vote shot of the 60 vote threshold necessary for passing. The bipartisan vote is further confirmation that Americans care about the outdoors and more elected officials are coming to understand their constituents want to see their treasured places protected.

“We are incredibly grateful to Senators Murray and Cantwell for their continued leadership on behalf of Washington’s great outdoors,” said Joanna Grist, executive director of the Washington Wildlife and Recreation Coalition. “Today’s votes make clear that there is overwhelming support for reauthorizing the Land and Water Conservation Fund and not diverting funding from its crucial conservation mission. In Washington state alone, outdoor recreation supports nearly 200,000 jobs, and we can’t afford to reduce our investment in this amazing economic engine.”

The Senate also voted decisively against a competing amendment which called for restructuring LWCF and cutting conservation funding. Senators Murray and Cantwell voted against this measure.

LWCF has invested close to $600 million in over 600 projects in Washington alone. The program is not funded with taxpayer dollars, instead relying on fees paid by major offshore drilling operations.

The program’s current authorization is set to expire in September unless it is reauthorized.

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 is the key to its success — no one member could secure such a high level of funding for parks and habitat on its own.

What is LWCF?

Created by Congress in 1965, the Land and Water Conservation Fund is the nation’s premier federal grant program for conservation and outdoor recreation. 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. However, a majority of LWCF funds continue to be diverted for unrelated purposes.