Last month Congress at long last concluded a budget deal which includes a three-year reauthorization of the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF), our nation’s premiere fund for protecting parks, trails, working forests, and waterways.
The Fund expired for the first time ever on September 30th after 50 years of strong bipartisan support. The fund takes a small percentage of the money earned when our nation’s offshore oil and gas resources are sold and reinvests it into preserving America’s natural resources for future generations.
Senators Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell have been strong supporters of LWCF, and along Congressman Dave Reichert (R-Auburn) and six other members of Washington’s delegation have been working to permanently reauthorize the fund.
“This is a critical tool to protect our open spaces in Washington and around the country. This increase in real funding and a three-year reauthorization will allow us to do important work in our state. I will continue to push for a permanent authorization,” said Senator Cantwell, ranking member of the Energy and Natural Resources Committee.
The budget deal includes $450 million for LWCF in 2016, higher than the 2015 level but only half of the program’s full funding level of $900 million.
Several Washington projects are likely to receive funding in the bill:
- Filling in gaps along the Pacific Crest Trail to protect safety and ensure continued public access.
- Forest Legacy Program conservation easements to protect working forests at Mt. St. Helens and promote sustainable forestry.
- Federal acquisition of properties in the Lake Quinault area of the Olympic National Park to protect local fisheries and curb sewage dumping that is threatening water quality.
- The preservation of 165 acres of historic farmland dating back to the 1850’s at Ebey’s Landing on Whidbey Island through conservation easements.
Photo Credit: Vlad Karpinskly via Flickr