Reichert’s leadership protects clean water, wildlife habitat in Washington
SEATTLE, WA – The Washington Wildlife and Recreation Coalition, a non-profit coalition of sportsmen, business and conservation organizations, announced today that it will show its appreciation for Congressman Dave Reichert’s leadership with new billboard ads. The Coalition is buying ads on five billboards to thank the Congressman for his leadership role in protecting funding for an essential conservation program.
Congressman Reichert co-sponsored a key amendment to restore critical funding for the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF). LWCF is the nation’s primary tool to conserve land for state and national parks, recreation, wildlife refuges, and working forests and rangelands. The program is funded from a small portion royalties paid to the federal government for offshore oil and gas leases – it does not use any taxpayer dollars.
“The billboards demonstrate the depth of our appreciation for Congressman Reichert’s leadership standing up for the Land and Water Conservation Fund,” declared Executive Director of the Coalition, Joanna Grist. She continued, “Congressman Reichert understands that protecting our natural heritage and outdoor recreation opportunities is essential for Washington’s economy and quality of life. He deserves to hear that Washingtonians appreciate his leadership in protecting our land and water.”
By this weekend, the billboards can be seen on WA-900 in Renton, WA-167, South 180th St and W Valley Hwy in Kent, and A Street SE in Rep Reichert’s hometown of Auburn.
Robust funding for LWCF is needed now more than ever as local tourism and the outdoor recreation industry are bright spots in difficult economic times, and they depend on access to public lands, waters, trails and wildlife habitat. According to the Outdoor Industry Foundation, active outdoor recreation contributes $11.7 billion each year to Washington State’s economy. Annually, in our state, recreation-based activities generate $8.5 billion in retail activity and millions in tax dollars while supporting 115,000 jobs.
In Washington, nine federal lands projects and 17 local park and trail projects are at risk if LWCF funding is cut this year. In Reichert’s district, projects at risk include the development of Confluence Park in Issaquah, ball fields at Gratzer Park in Orting, and the Bay Street Pedestrian Path/Mosquito Fleet Trail in Port Orchard.
Even with the passage of the amendment to restore some funding to LWCF, the battle to preserve funding is far from over. The most recent budget out of the U.S. House Interior Appropriations Committee would have imposed an unprecedented 78% cut from FY2011 funding levels. As the U.S. House and Senate negotiate the FY 2012 budget in the face of pressure to reduce the federal deficit, the fate of LWCF funding is still uncertain.
Since 1965, LWCF has invested nearly half a billion dollars for state and federal land conservation projects in Washington State. In Washington’s 8th Congressional District, represented by Congressman Reichert, LWCF grants have helped fund conservation efforts in a wide variety of areas, including Mount Rainier National Park, the Alpine Lakes Wilderness Area, the Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest, Mercer Slough, Lake Sammamish State Park, and Covington Park.
This is the second round of billboard ads the Coalition has bought to thank Congressman Reichert. In March, the Coalition bought five billboard ads to thank the Congressman for his critical vote on the Lummis amendment to save the LWCF from elimination.
About the Land and Water Conservation Fund
Created in 1965, the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) supports federal land 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, funded through LWCF, protects working forests and water quality and provides access for recreation. LWCF is authorized to receive $900 million annually in federal revenue from oil and gas leasing of the Outer Continental Shelf. It has been chronically underfunded, with funds diverted to other federal spending. The result is a huge backlog of unmet needs for land protection and outdoor recreation across our federal public lands and state and local parks.
About the Washington Wildlife and Recreation Coalition
The Washington Wildlife and Recreation Coalition is a non-profit citizens group of farmers and fishermen, hunters and hikers, conservationists and business leaders dedicated to promoting public funding for parks, habitat and working farms across the state. Governors Dan Evans and Mike Lowry founded the Coalition in 1989.