DearColleague.us

Letter

Mike Thompson

From the office of:

Mike Thompson

Sending Office: Honorable Mike Thompson
Sent By:
Brittaney.Koehler@mail.house.gov

Support Funding for the Land and Water Conservation Fund

Deadline: March 5, 2020

 

Dear Colleague:

 

We invite you to join us in signing the attached bipartisan letter to the Interior and Environment Appropriations Subcommittee, urging the Subcommittee to provide significant increased funding for the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) in fiscal year
(FY) 2021.  Congress last year made the strongest endorsement of LWCF, based on its success and near-universal popularity across the country, by voting to make its authorization permanent in S. 47, the John D. Dingell, Jr. Conservation, Management, and Recreation
Act.

Since its creation more than 55 years ago, the LWCF has helped to ensure permanent protection, recreational access, and maintenance of critical lands in our national and community forests, recreation areas, parks, wildlife refuges, Civil War battlefields,
and historic sites. Equally important, it has provided matching funds to support countless state park and recreation projects in thousands of communities in every state in the nation. The Forest Legacy Program (FLP) assists states in conserving working forestlands
that are threatened by conversion to non-forest uses, and other LWCF state and local grant programs help advance community-based priorities.

In every state, LWCF funds have ensured that all Americans reap the benefits of access to outdoor recreation, unique historic sites, clean water, and protected wildlife. For example, over the past 20 years, FLP has prevented the loss of almost two million
acres of forestland in 42 states and leveraged an equal amount of state, local, and private funding for every federal dollar spent. Overall, since its creation, the LWCF program has conserved more than 15 million acres of parks, recreation, forests, and other
lands in communities throughout every state in the nation.

This funding will help to ensure that critical park protection and recreational development opportunities throughout the nation are not lost forever. To co-sign this letter, please contact
Brittaney.Koehler@mail.house.gov (M. Thompson) or
Jennifer.Tyler@mail.house.gov (Katko).

 

Sincerely,

 

                                                                                                                                                                                                              

MIKE THOMPSON                                                                       JOHN KATKO

Member of Congress                                                                      Member of Congress

 

                                                                                                                                                                                                              

JAMES P. MCGOVERN                                                              BRIAN FITZPATRICK

Member of Congress                                                                      Member of Congress

 

 

                                                                                                                                                                                                               

JARED HUFFMAN                                                                            LEE ZELDIN

Member of Congress                                                                      Member of Congress

 

                                                                                                                                                                                                              

G. K. BUTTERFIELD                                                                   STEVE STIVERS

Member of Congress                                                                      Member of Congress

                                                                                                                                                                                                              

RAÚL M. GRIJALVA                                                                         BRIAN MAST

Member of Congress                                                                      Member of Congress

                                                                                                                                                                                                              

DEBBIE DINGELL                                                                      CHRISTOPHER H. SMITH

Member of Congress                                                                      Member of Congress

 

 

 

March 20, 2020

 

The Honorable Betty McCollum                                             The Honorable David Joyce

Chair                                                                                              Ranking Member

Subcommittee on Interior,                                                         Subcommittee on Interior,

 Environment and Related Agencies                                        Environment, and Related Agencies

Committee on Appropriations                                                  Committee on Appropriations

U.S. House of Representatives                                                U.S. House of Representatives

Washington, D.C. 20515                                                           Washington, D.C. 20515

 

Dear Chair McCollum and Ranking Member Joyce,

More than fifty years ago, the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) Act of 1964 established America’s most successful conservation program. The bill was designed to assure our growing population that outdoor recreation lands would be secured, on a pay-as-you-go
basis, for future Americans’ requirements.   We are thrilled that Congress last year voted overwhelmingly to reauthorize LWCF permanently in the John D. Dingell, Jr. Conservation, Management and Recreation Act (S. 47), making a definitive statement in support
of LWCF as a uniquely constructed, common-sense concept:  that proceeds from public resource extraction will be dedicated to the protection of our greatest natural parks and outdoor places. 

LWCF deserved to be made permanent because it’s a program that works, to the benefit of all Americans.  Now that Congress has resoundingly affirmed its commitment to LWCF as originally intended by protecting its annual $900 million deposits for the long-term,
we look forward to working on a bipartisan basis towards directing those funds to their intended conservation purposes.

We urge that you recognize the resounding level of support for LWCF and the compelling now-or-never needs the program addresses in communities across America by investing the increased resources needed to successfully implement this valuable, time-tested
program in the FY 2021 Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies Appropriations bill.  We thank you for funding LWCF at a significantly increased level in the FY 2020 omnibus appropriations bill, and also note that there are still many time-sensitive unmet
needs in our states and districts that were not addressed at this level.  We therefore urge you to again increase this crucial investment in the coming fiscal year to address the growing unmet needs for recreation and conservation in every state and county
in America. 

Investments in LWCF support public land conservation and ensure access to the outdoors for all Americans, in rural communities and cities alike. It has created outdoor recreation opportunities in every state and 98 percent of counties across the country,
opening up key areas for hunting, fishing, and other recreational access; supporting working forests and ranches; and acquiring inholdings and protecting critical lands in national parks, national wildlife refuges, national forests, Civil War battlefields,
and other federal areas.

The State and Local Grants Program and the Outdoor Recreation Legacy Partnership Program provide crucial support for state and local park acquisitions in cities, counties, and rural towns as well as recreational facilities and trail corridors.  It is the
government’s primary investment tool for ensuring that children and families have access to close-to-home recreation, having funded over 42,000 projects in virtually every county in the nation.

The Cooperative Endangered Species grants program provides states and counties with essential resources for habitat conservation that in turn allows for appropriate economic development. The American Battlefield Protection Program ensures the protection
of America’s Civil War and Revolutionary War sites at the state and local level. And finally, the Forest Legacy Program helps maintain critical jobs in the woods while protecting outdoor resources, recreation access, and local economies.

As you know, LWCF uses no taxpayer dollars. Congress created LWCF as a bipartisan promise to return precious resources back to the American public by using federal energy revenues specifically for conservation and recreation purposes.  Unfortunately, over
the 55-year history of LWCF, over $22 billion of the funds designated for LWCF have been diverted from their original conservation and recreation purpose.  This chronic problem has created substantial unmet conservation and recreation needs; has caused state,
local, and federal land management agencies to postpone or cancel many important priority projects; and has created undue hardship for many property owners.

Despite this history of underfunding, LWCF remains the premier federal program to conserve our nation’s land, water, historic, and recreation heritage. LWCF funds support an entire suite of conservation tools to address national, state, local, and regionally-driven
priorities across the country.  These include working lands easements that keep farmers and ranchers as stewards of the landscape that provides their livelihoods, working forest projects that keep timberlands forested and accessible and provide jobs in our
rural communities, and vital recreation access projects – making public lands public – for hunting, fishing, and other activities.

LWCF is essential to America’s outdoor recreation, conservation, and preservation economies, which together contribute $1.06 trillion to the nation’s economy each year and support 9.4 million American jobs (1 out of every 15 jobs in the U.S.).  Support for
public lands among the American public remains consistently and overwhelmingly strong.

We look forward to working with the Subcommittee on Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies in the coming months to ensure that the suite of LWCF programs receive the high priority and significantly increased funding they need in FY 2021 to maintain
our commitment to conservation and recreation, as well as to states and local communities.  As Americans continue to visit forests, parks, historic battlefields, and wildlife areas in increasing numbers across America, we urge you to provide the funding levels
necessary to ensure these opportunities exist everywhere in our great Nation. Thank you for your consideration of our request.

 

Sincerely,

Related Legislative Issues

Selected legislative information: Appropriations, Environment, Natural Resources

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