October 1, 2018[table “12” not found /]
Dear Senate Majority Leader McConnell, Senate Minority Leader Schumer, Speaker Ryan, and House Minority Leader Pelosi,
The Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) has been our nation’s primary source for preserving nationally significant public lands and providing recreational opportunities in local communities throughout the country for over 50 years. Congress’ failure to reauthorize the LWCF will have long-reaching and devastating impacts at national, state, and local levels. State and national parks will lose millions of dollars in direct support. Residents in all 50 states and our territories will lose money and jobs from a reduction in tourism and related industries that depend on a vibrant park system.
The LWCF has a long history of support across party lines. It was created by Congress in 1964 as a bipartisan commitment to safeguard natural areas, water resources and our cultural heritage, and to provide recreational opportunities to all Americans. National parks, wildlife refuges, national forests, rivers, and lakes have been set aside for conservation and public enjoyment thanks to funds from the LWCF. Matching grants have been issued to states for planning, land acquisition, and the development of recreational opportunities. Local communities across the nation have relied on these funds to create playgrounds, swimming pools, trails, and ball fields.
This funding is a critical investment not only in our quality of life, but in the American economy. Every state and territory has benefited from the LWCF. Outdoor recreation, conservation, and historic preservation activities contribute more than a trillion dollars annually to the U.S. economy, supporting 9.4 million jobs.
Just weeks ago, the House Natural Resources Committee unanimously approved H.R. 502, a bipartisan agreement that would permanently reauthorize the LWCF. This positive, bipartisan action was a nod towards upholding our obligations to ensure that our public lands are protected and maintained. Conservationists and preservationists, outdoor recreation enthusiasts, political leaders, and residents of every state in America support this critical fund. Despite overwhelming levels of support, the LWCF was not reauthorized.
The LWCF is America’s most important tool for meeting communities’ conservation and recreation needs, from legendary national parks and critical wildlife refuges, to hallowed battlefields and historic sites, to working forests and endangered habitats, and to community baseball fields and playgrounds.
The Coalition to Protect America’s National Parks urges Congress to fully fund and permanently reauthorize the LWCF without delay. Our natural and cultural resources are for everyone, and our leaders must rise above partisan discourse to protect them and best serve the interests of the American people.
The Coalition to Protect America’s National Parks Executive Council:
Phillip A. Francis, Chair
Douglas K. Morris, Vice Chair
Michael B. Murray