Wildlife & Recreation Coalition Thanks Rep. Reichert for his Conservation Leadership

April 16, 2015

Rep. Reichert co-sponsors legislation to permanently reauthorize the Land and Water Conservation Fund

For more information, contact: Karin Frank, 206.748.0082

Representative Dave Reichert of Washington’s eighth congressional district is an original co-sponsor of bipartisan legislation introduced this week to permanently reauthorize the Land and Water Conservation Fund.

Over its 50-year history, the LWCF has come to be recognized as America’s most important conservation program. Without congressional action, the program’s current authorization will expire at the end of September. Since 1965, the LWCF has invested over half a billion dollars for state and federal land conservation projects in Washington alone, providing grants to hundreds of state and local parks, trails, fishing access sites, and recreational facilities, and supporting working forests and family farms.

“The LWCF has played a pivotal role in preserving America’s national treasures for future generations,” said Rep. Reichert. “In Washington alone, it has helped to conserve the natural beauty of the Pacific Crest Trail, Mt. Rainier National Park, Alpine Lakes Wilderness Area, and the Columbia River Gorge. These are places that attract visitors from across the country, and even from other parts of the globe. I look forward to working with my colleagues to sustain the LWCF and put it to good use in the next 50 years.”

LWCF is the only federal program dedicated to the continued conservation of our national parks, forests, wildlife refuges, wilderness, state and local parks, working forests, and critical wildlife areas. The bill ensures that public lands remain truly accessible to the American people for outdoor recreation by setting aside a portion of LWCF funds to increase access to existing federal public lands for hunting, fishing and other recreational purposes.

The new bill is the House companion to S.338 and incorporates language approved by a Senate majority in January.

“We are incredibly grateful to Rep. Reichert for all that he does to protect Washington’s natural heritage and our strong outdoor economy,” said Vlad Gutman, policy director of the Washington Wildlife and Recreation Coalition. “Outdoor recreation supports nearly 200,000 jobs in Washington state. It is important for Congress to secure full funding and reauthorization for the LWCF to preserve our economy and quality of life, and we’re fortunate to have strong leaders like Rep. Reichert leading the charge to protect our great outdoors.”

The bill would fund a number of proposed projects across Washington state in 2016, including:

  • The preservation of 165 acres of historic farmland dating back to the 1850’s at Ebey’s Landing on Whidbey Island through conservation easements.
  • 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 to protect local fisheries and curb pollution that is threatening water quality.

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.

What is LWCF?

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.