President’s budget calls for full funding for critical conservation program
The President’s budget for 2016 contains full and dedicated funding of the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF), further underscoring the need to permanently reauthorize this critical program.
The program, funded not by tax dollars but by fees paid by offshore drilling interests, envisions $900 million for conservation projects. It has only been fully funded once in its 50-year history.
“The Land and Water Conservation Fund is a critical part of supporting Washington’s outdoor economy, which employs nearly 200,000 people in every corner of the state,” said Joanna Grist, executive director of the Washington Wildlife & Recreation Coalition. “The administration has done its part for the outdoors, now we need Congress to do theirs.There is a history of bipartisan support for this program, and we’re going to work closely with Washington’s congressional delegation to secure full funding and reauthorization for our land and water.”
The Land and Water Conservation Fund has conserved treasured place in Washington–including icons like Mount Rainier and Mount St Helens, along local projects in communities of all sizes. Nationally, LWCF has enabled more than 41,000 state and local conservation projects. However, there is still a backlog of unmet need because the government has diverted $18 billion from the fund to unrelated purposes. For fiscal year 2015, Congress left $10.2 million in projects unfunded in Washington alone.
Projects proposed for funding in the President’s budget in Washington state include:
- Improvements to wildlife habitat and water security in the Okanogan/Wenatchee National Forest,
- The second phase of the South Puget Sound Coastal Forest project south of Hood Canal,
- And improvements to Olympic National Park, among others.
The budget proposal also includes funding for grants to states to build and improve local parks and trails in rural and urban areas, a portion of which will come to Washington state. Additional projects on Forest Service and Forest Legacy Program project lists are expected to be released this week.
Created by Congress in 1965, the Land and Water Conservation Fund is the nation’s premier federal grant program for conservation and outdoor recreation. The program uses no taxpayer dollars. Instead, $900 million in offshore oil and gas lease revenue is meant to be invested in parks and outdoor recreation opportunities each year. However, a majority of LWCF funds continue to be diverted for unrelated purposes.
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.