Trust for Public Land Praises Obama Proposal to Invest in Parks and Recreation
President Obama's proposed budget will provide more opportunities for Americans and their families to get outdoors and will help support jobs in local communities, The Trust for Public Land said today.
The budget for the fiscal year beginning Oct. 1, 2013, would invest $600 million from annual oil and gas revenues in the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF), which is the main federal program for protecting land and ensuring outdoor recreation around the nation.
"This is an excellent investment and will help provide close to home places for Americans to get outdoors and we hope Congress supports it," said Will Rogers, President of The Trust for Public Land. "Since 1965, LWCF has been helping to protect a variety of our favorite places across the nation, and none of the money comes from federal taxes."
Rogers said, "By helping protect our national parks, seashores, trails and forests, as well as ensuring protection of working forests and ranches, the LWCF program also supports jobs in local communities." A recent study by the Outdoor Industry Association said outdoor recreation contributes $646 billion annually to the American economy, and supports 6.1 million direct jobs.
Rogers also expressed support for the budget's focus on conservation in America's cities, where 80 per cent of the population lives. The budget calls for a $15 million investment through LWCF in urban parks. "Making sure more Americans, especially children, have access to close-to-home parks and forests is a wise investment in our future," said Rogers.
The LWCF program is supposed to receive $900 million every year, but Congress has routinely diverted much of the money for other purposes. Obama's budget also proposes to go to the $900 million level in FY 2015. Revenues from offshore oil and gas drilling activities totaled almost $7 billion last year.
Congress will consider the Obama budget while writing budget specifics through the annual appropriations process. "The importance of LWCF to local economies underscores the need for this program and its role in ensuring a robust outdoor recreation economy," said Rogers. "Congress should approve the President's proposal as part of the final FY 2014 budget."
Founded in 1972, The Trust for Public Land is the leading nonprofit working to conserve land for people. Operating from more than 30 offices nationwide, The Trust for Public Land has protected more than three million acres from the inner city to the wilderness and helped generate more than $34 billion in public funds for conservation. Nearly ten million people live within a ten-minute walk of a Trust for Public Land park, garden, or natural area, and millions more visit these sites every year.