Investment in lands creates job
SEATTLE – Today, the Washington Wildlife and Recreation Coalition applauded the President’s continued commitment to robust funding for the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF). The fund is the federal government’s primary means of protecting parks, wildlife refuges, forests and working lands.
In his Fiscal Year (FY) 2013 budget released yesterday morning the President requested $450 million for LWCF, a 30 percent increase over FY 12 funding levels which keeps LWCF on an upward trajectory. The fund is authorized to receive up to $900 million per year but Congress has routinely diverted LWCF funds for other uses.
The investment in LWCF would protect forests and streams in Mt Rainier National Park, scenic lands along the Pacific Crest Trail, wildlife habitat in Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge, and working forest lands along the Straight of Juan De Fuca in Pysht Coastal Forest. In the coming months Congress will have to act to fulfill the President’s budget request.
The active outdoor recreation economy supports 115,000 jobs across Washington and contributes more than $11.7 billion annually to Washington’s economy. “Investments in conservation not only maintain our heritage of clean air, water and wildlife habitat. As a small-business owner, I can attest that they are also good for our economy,” said Joe Hyer, owner of Alpine Experience, an outdoor retail business in Olympia. “Protecting our public lands drives tourism and supports local recreation-based businesses, creating jobs across our state.”
The fund does not use taxpayer dollars. Instead, it uses funds generated by the depletion of one public resource – oil and gas royalties from the Outer Continental Shelf – to protect our irreplaceable natural heritage on land.
Recent polling shows that Americans across the political, racial, and geographic spectrum support LWCF. An overwhelming 85% of Americans support full funding for LWCF. By similar margins, a vast majority of Americans want Congress to honor its commitment to dedicate LWCF funds to these purposes rather than diverting them for unrelated uses.
“I applaud the President for calling for robust funding of LWCF,” said Joanna Grist, Executive Director of the Washington Wildlife and Recreation Coalition. “The fund is the single best source of money for protecting and enhancing local and federal areas and recreational amenities. Safe, close-to-home recreation opportunities are essential to our health and quality of life.”
Over the years since the conservation fund was created in 1965, it has protected Washington icons like Mount Rainier, Olympic, and North Cascades National Parks, the Pacific Crest Trail, and Turnbull National Wildlife Refuge.
The Coalition will continue to work with conservation, business, and hunting and fishing partners across the state to ensure robust funding for conservation, recreation, and wildlife habitat through LWCF in FY 2013.
About the WWRC
The Washington Wildlife and Recreation Coalition (WWRC) is a non-profit citizens group founded in a historic bipartisan effort by former Governors Dan Evans and Mike Lowry. A diverse group of over 250 organizations representing conservation, business, recreation, hunting, fishing, farming, and community interests, the Coalition’s breadth and diversity helps secure a level of funding for parks and habitat that individuals could not achieve alone.
About the LWCF
The Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) supports federal acquisition and conservation easements of our nation’s most precious lands and waters, and provides matching funds for state and local entities to acquire and develop recreational opportunities in almost every county of the nation. The Forest Legacy Program, which is funded through LWCF, provides grants to states to protect working forests and water quality and provide access for recreation. Created in 1965, the LWCF is authorized to receive $900 million annually in federal revenue from oil and gas leasing of the Outer Continental Shelf. The LWCF, however, has been chronically shortchanged in the annual budget and appropriations process, with funding consistently diverted to other purposes.