Colorado Conservation Partnership Encourages Support for LWCF
The Colorado Conservation Partnership today purchased online advertising on DenverPost.com, ColoradoPols.com, Huffington Post-Denver SquareState.com, and coloradoindependent.com, to encourage Interior Secretary Ken Salazar and U.S. Sens. Mark Udall and Michael Bennet, both D-Colo., to continue to champion full funding for the Land and Water Conservation Fund.
The advertisements, which began today and will run for about a week, follow on the heels of listening sessions hosted last week in Denver and Grand Junction by Secretary Salazar, to hear ideas from Coloradans on a conservation vision for the 21st century. Sens. Udall and Bennet are cosponsors of S. 2747, a bill to provide full and dedicated funding for the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF). In the coming weeks, as Congress deliberates energy legislation, conservation and recreation partners are working with the Colorado Senators to urge inclusion of S. 2747 in the final energy package).
“Full funding of the Land and Water Conservation Fund is an absolutely critical tool to complement state and local efforts and ensure that Coloradans can protect our land, water and recreation heritage,” said a statement from The Colorado Conservation Partnership.
“We want to both thank and encourage our Senators and Secretary Salazar to keep the push on for full funding,” said Tim Wohlgenant, Colorado director of The Trust for Public Land (TPL). TPL is one of five member organizations of the Colorado Conservation Partnership. The others are: The Nature Conservancy, The Conservation Fund, Colorado Open Lands, and Colorado Conservation Trust.
The LWCF was established in 1965 using royalties paid by companies drilling for oil and gas offshore to help protect America’s national parks, forests, refuges, and other public lands. It provides recreational facilities and opportunities for Americans in every state in the nation.
In Colorado, LWCF funding has protected Rocky Mountain National Park, Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park, Arkansas River Special Recreation Management Area, Uncompahgre National Forest, Ruby Canyon in the McInnis Canyons National Conservation Area, and other federal lands.
In addition, according to Colorado State Parks, “nearly 1,000 [LWCF] grants totaling more than $58 million have funded community and state park outdoors investments statewide.” These matching LWCF grants leverage state lottery funds through GOCO, and other public and private funding to protect natural areas and wildlife habitat, and create recreational opportunities, including trails and parks, across the state.
A 2008 report for the Colorado Division of Wildlife said hunting and fishing alone in Colorado have a total estimated impact of $1.8 billion. The Outdoor Industry Foundation reports that the Colorado active outdoor recreation industry contributes more than $10 billion annually to Colorado’s economy and supports 107,000 jobs in the state.
Although the fund was intended by Congress to receive $900 million per year – only a small part of the offshore revenues that typically tally over $5 billion – it has been shortchanged by subsequent Congresses nearly every year since, with revenues regularly being diverted to other purposes. Full funding has occurred only once in the LWCF’s 45-year history and recently declined to a low of $138 million in 2007. This shortfall has resulted in a huge land protection and outdoor recreation backlog of unmet funding needs across our federal public lands, and state and local parks in Colorado and nationwide.
The Colorado Conservation Partnership’s online ads cite recent polling conducted by Public Opinion Strategies and FM3, in which the majority of Americans view funding the Land and Water Conservation Fund as more important today in light of the BP oil spill.
Interior Secretary Salazar visited the Denver Post editorial board last week as part of his America’s Great Outdoors listening tour, telling them that “if Congress were to fully fund the Land and Water Conservation Fund, that would help a great deal.”