As ‘Lame Duck’ approaches, opportunity seen for conservation program

October 22, 2014

Senator Murray bolsters support for LWCF at 50th anniversary celebration

SEATTLE — Yesterday, at an event at the office of Perkins Coie, Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) bolstered support for reauthorization of America’s premier conservation program that is set to expire next September without Congressional action.

The Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) Act was introduced by Washington’s Senator Henry “Scoop” Jackson and passed into law 50 years ago  with overwhelming bipartisan support. The program reinvests non-taxpayer dollars from offshore oil and gas revenues into conservation and outdoor recreation projects nationwide.

The program is most widely known for its grants to national parks, but it is also a critical resource for local parks and has funded projects in every county across the nation.

“A lot of people talk a good game, but they never put the money into it. And we all know that is what’s really going to matter into the future,” said Senator Murray. “To me this is a matter of passing something on. I just had a brand new granddaughter two weeks ago and I want her to be able talk about the legacy she inherited and carry that on into the future.”

Senator Murray was joined by a bipartisan group of LWCF supporters including representatives from the office of Congressman Dave Reichert (R-WA, 8), the Wilderness Society, the Nature Conservancy and the Washington Forest Protection Association among others. The event was hosted by the Washington Wildlife and Recreation Coalition and the Henry M. Jackson Foundation.

“We all do this because we know it’s not just about buying land or preserving land, it really is about making sure there are great jobs and economic opportunities in both rural communities and cities,” Senator Murray said. “It is a broad coalition like that that will help us get this reauthorized, and not just reauthorized, but with a funding stream that is permanent.”

After the November 4th election, Congress will return to DC for the “Lame Duck” session. There is strong indication that they will take up time-sensitive legislation that stalled earlier, possibly including LWCF reauthorization.

Pat Naselow, project co-chair for the Bellevue Rotary and City of Bellevue’s Inspiration Park Playground and Sensory Garden, spoke at the event on how an LWCF grant would be transformative for increasing playground access for children of all abilities.

“We’re excited to create this space, one where children with and without disabilities can play together, where veterans and other disabled adults are able to play with their able bodied children and grandchildren and one for the entire community to enjoy,” said Naselow. “LWCF is so important for communities like ours.”

“We are incredibly grateful to Senator Murray for continuing Senator Jackson’s legacy protecting not only Washington’s great outdoors, but also treasured places around the nation,” said Joanna Grist, executive director of the Coalition. “We cannot afford to lose LWCF. This program is a critical resource for our quality of life, our children’s health, and our economy.”

Senator Murray is a co-sponsor of the Land and Water Conservation Reauthorization and Funding Act, S.338, which would reauthorize the program with full funding at $900 million. To keep the program alive and ensure it continues to have a dedicated funding source, Congress must pass legislation extending it’s authorization before September 30, 2015.

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.

About the Jackson Foundation

The Henry M Jackson Foundation was founded in 1983 to continue the unfinished work of the late Senator Henry M. “Scoop” Jackson in the areas in which he played a key leadership role: international affairs education, environment and natural resources management, human rights and public service. Through its grant making and strategic initiatives, the Foundation seeks to make a lasting impact and perpetuate the Jackson legacy for the benefit of future generations.