Congressman Reichert recognized for conservation leadership

May 19, 2011

Congressman’s vote played key role in preserving national conservation funding

COVINGTON, Wa– The Congressman was recognized for his leadership and support of the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) by the Washington Wildlife and Recreation Coalition. The program was saved earlier this year thanks to a key vote cast by Congressman Reichert on the Lummis Amendment of HR.1 on February 19, 2011.

“A big thank you to Congressman Reichert,” said WWRC Executive Director Joanna Grist.  “The LWCF needs leaders from both parties who are willing to stand up and fight for its funding. Congressman Dave Reichert is one of those leaders.”

The City of Covington applied for a $500,000 LWCF grant to help develop the Covington Community Park and integrate the city in the regional trails system.   Congressman Reichert toured the area Thursday with Covington City Manager Derek Matheson, Mayor Margaret Harto, King County Councilmember Reagan Dunn and other community leaders as part of his ongoing commitment to LWCF.

Calling the project “quite a vision,” Reichert noted that his grandchildren will be looking forward to it. He also spoke about the parkland over the years and praised local efforts to preserve the rural atmosphere.

The proposed project incorporates 30 acres of pasture and woodland.  Federal funds from the LWCF will help develop and integrate the trails system while a proposed grant from the Washington Wildlife and Recreation Program (WWRP) will support development of soccer and playgrounds – the community currently has no soccer fields big enough for children over 12, who currently have to play outside the city.  The WWRP grant is currently under consideration by the House and Senate for inclusion in the 2011 Capital Construction Budget.

Due to reduced funding levels of LWCF in fiscal year 2011, federal money for the trail system will not come through this year, but the City has already applied for funding from LWCF for 2012 and is optimistic about state funding from WWRP for the second phase of the project.

“LWCF can be really instrumental for communities like Covington,” said Parks and Recreation Director Scott Thomas as he emphasized the critical importance of the LWCF and WWRP funding for this park project.

About LWCF

Created in 1965, the LWCF is funded with offshore oil and gas leasing revenues. The Fund is intended to offset the negative consequences from offshore drilling by reinvesting a small fraction of the federal lease revenues to enhance public access for recreation, protect watersheds and preserve wildlife habitat and open spaces. Though LWCF is not financed by taxpayer money, it has only received full funding of $900 million once in the program’s history.

About the WWRP

The Washington Wildlife and Recreation Program (RCW 79A.15) is a state grant program funded from the capital construction budget that provides funding to protect habitat, preserve working farms and creates new local and state parks. Independent experts rank the applications based on criteria such as the benefits to the public, level of threat to the property, or presence of threatened or endangered species.

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 supporting public funding for parks, habitat and working farms across the state.  The Coalition was founded in 1989 by Governors Dan Evans and Mike Lowry.  In 1990, the Coalition persuaded the State Legislature to create the Washington Wildlife and Recreation Program (WWRP) – a grant program that supports acquisition, development, and restoration projects across the state. The WWRP has provided more than $623 million for over 1,000 projects across the state.