Bipartisan majority of delegation joins colleagues across the country in requesting continued funding for the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF)
Seattle, WA – In a bipartisan effort, 130 members of the U.S. House of Representatives signed a letter to Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-OH) and Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) requesting continued funding for the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF).
In a strong show of bipartisan support, Washington Democratic Reps. Jay Inslee (WA-1), Rick Larsen (WA-2), Jim McDermott (WA-7) and Adam Smith (WA-9) were joined by Republican Rep. Dave Reichert (WA-8) in signing the letter. Rep. Inslee and four other House colleagues from around the nation sponsored the letter that was signed by 14 Republicans, 115 Democrats and one Independent.
“We commend Representatives Inslee, Reichert, McDermott, Smith and Larsen for their leadership in protecting Washington’s parks, wildlife, and outdoor economy” said WWRC Executive Director Joanna Grist. “Clearly, they understand that Washingtonians want to protect the nation’s most critical conservation tool.”
The U.S. House Republican leadership has proposed to fund transportation infrastructure with royalties from offshore oil and gas drilling in federal waters, the same revenue source that funds LWCF. Since 1965, LWCF has used a portion of these offshore oil and gas lease royalties to protect vulnerable and iconic lands while improving outdoor recreation opportunities for every American.
“LWCF is an incredibly successful bipartisan program that, in its nearly five decades of existence, has touched all fifty states and nearly every county in America,” states the letter. “It is based on an unassailable logic: when the federal government sells the finite OCS [Outer Continental Shelf] resources we all own, it should reinvest at least a portion of the proceeds into the dwindling irreplaceable open spaces and recreational opportunities we all need.”
Bipartisan support for LWCF was made clear this past weekend when Congress passed an omnibus budget bill funding LWCF at $322.9 million, a 7% increase over the level in Fiscal Year (FY) 2011. The letter signers seek to ensure this funding will not be diverted in FY12. Despite this strong show of support in the FY12 budget bill, the Land and Water Conservation Fund continues to be funded well below the $900 million that it is authorized to receive annually from offshore oil and gas royalties.
Under the FY12 budget approved this week, Washington State is likely to receive funding for six projects. These include requests for:
- $1.5 million for the Washington Cascade Ecosystem project in Wenatchee National Forest,
- $335,575 for the local Klickitat Prairie Park in Mossyrock,
- $109,000 for North Creek Forest in Bothell, and
- $500,000 for Claybell Park in Richland.
Washington is also set to receive part of a $1 million grant for the Pacific Crest National Scenic Trail in Washington, Oregon, and California, and $1.1 million for Pacific Northwest stream projects in Washington and Oregon.
About the LWCF
The Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) supports federal acquisition and conservation easements of our nation’s most precious lands and waters, and provides matching funds for state and local entities to acquire and develop recreational opportunities in almost every county of the nation. Created in 1965, the LWCF is authorized to receive $900 million annually in federal revenue from oil and gas leasing of the Outer Continental Shelf. The LWCF, however, has been chronically shortchanged in the annual budget and appropriations process, with funding consistently diverted to other purposes.
About the Coalition
The Washington Wildlife and Recreation Coalition (WWRC) is a non-profit citizens group founded in a historic bipartisan effort by former Governors Dan Evans and Mike Lowry. Our members consist of a diverse group of over 250 organizations representing conservation, business, recreation, hunting, fishing, farming, and community interests. Our breadth and diversity is the key to our success–no one member of the Coalition could secure this level of funding for parks and habitat on their own!
What We Do
The Coalition founded the Washington Wildlife and Recreation Program (WWRP) grant program in 1989 to address the need to preserve more land for outdoor recreation and wildlife habitat. A state agency, the Recreation and Conservation Office or RCO, reviews, ranks, and distributes the grants through a competitive process that guarantees that only the best new park, habitat and farm projects are funded. The Coalition lobbies the Governor and the Legislature, which sets the funding level and approves the final list of projects. The Coalition also advocates for the federal Land and Water Conservation Fund.