Seattle, WA – In a strong show of bipartisan support, 157 members of the U.S. House of Representatives signed a letter to Chairman Mike Simpson (R-ID) and Ranking Member Jim Moran (D-VA) of the Subcommittee on Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies requesting continued funding for the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF).
This is the highest number of signers ever recorded on an LWCF House letter.
The LWCF is the nation’s premier land conservation program that provides funds for conserving working forests and farmland; preserving historic battlefields; expanding access to national, state, and local parks; and safeguarding our water. This program has allowed hunters, anglers to continue to have access to the wild lands that are essential to their sports, and protects jobs by working with timber companies to keep forestland working.
In the past, LWCF grants have funded public fishing piers, and expansions to popular parks like Point Defiance among other projects across the state. The LWCF protects existing jobs that rely on public lands and protects Washington’s quality of life that make it attractive to new businesses.
Rep. Dave Reichert (R-8) and eight colleagues from around the nation lead the bipartisan letter. He was joined on the letter by many members of the Washington state delegation including Representatives Suzan Delbene (D-1), Rick Larsen (D-2), Derek Kilmer (D-6), Jim McDermott (D-7), Adam Smith (D-9), and Denny Heck (D-10).
“We are grateful to Congressman Reichert for his continued leadership in protecting Washington’s parks, wildlife habitat and outdoor recreation economy,” said Washington Wildlife and Recreation Coalition Executive Director Joanna Grist. “He understands that preserving the outdoors is critical to our quality of life and economic future.”
A poll released last year by Public Opinion Strategies, the country’s largest Republican polling firm, found that attitudes about public lands protection were overwhelmingly positive in the 8th District, even across political lines and the so-called “Cascade Curtain.”
Of the potential voters polled, 84 percent said they agreed that public lands are good for the state.
Representative Reichert has repeatedly called for robust LWCF funding. In 2011, Reichert was one of 33 republicans who voted against the Lummis amendment to H.R.1 that would have eliminated the program.
LWCF funds use no taxpayer dollars, instead deriving funding from offshore oil and gas lease royalties. Since the program was created in 1965, the LWCF has achieved full funding only once and royalties are continually diverted to other purposes, leaving states with a backlog of critical conservation and restoration projects.
“Inadequate LWCF funding jeopardizes access to public lands for hunting, fishing and other outdoor activities,” states the letter. “This, in turn, has an adverse impact on America’s outdoor recreation, conservation and preservation economies which contributes $1.06 trillion to the nation’s economy each year.”
The President’s budget has requested $600 million for LWCF in FY 2014 and full funding for the program by FY 2015.
Projects in need in Washington State include:
- $3 million for Washington Cascades – Yakima River in both Kittitas and Yakima Counties
- $3.5 million for Klickitat Canyon Working Forest
- $5.63 million for the Pacific Crest Trail (in Washington and California)
- $3 million for the Pysht Coastal Forest
- $1.56 million for the Steigerwald National Wildlife Refuge