House Proposal Would Eliminate Land Conservation

A proposal approved today by a House subcommittee would end all spending for one of America’s most effective conservation programs, The Trust for Public Land said.

“Millions of American families enjoy the outdoors because the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) has helped create parks and save land,” said Will Rogers, President of The Trust for Public Land. “It has been one of the most important and effective conservation tools in the past 50 years, and cutting all spending for it would be a real disservice to an American public which has time and time again voiced its support for federal, state, and local land conservation.”

Rogers’ comments came after the House Appropriations subcommittee on Interior and the Environment proposed to eliminate all LWCF money for the fiscal year beginning Oct. 1.

Rogers noted that the House subcommittee action is only a first step. The LWCF spending level, which after approval by the full House, will have to eventually be reconciled with any Senate proposal and signed by President Obama. The President proposed $600 million for the program.

The cuts to the LWCF program were among a series of deep reductions approved by the subcommittee for a variety of conservation programs. These stark cuts in natural resource programs are a direct result of the larger budget process in the House, which slashed the funding available to the Subcommittee by over $5 billion, or nearly 20 percent, from current-year levels.

“The LWCF program doesn’t use taxpayer money. It is entirely paid for from offshore oil and gas revenue,” said Rogers. “Eliminating programs which work and which don’t use taxpayer money doesn’t make any sense.

Since it was created in 1964, the LWCF program has protected thousands of acres of national parks, forests, and shorelines used by families for recreation. It has also helped create close-to-home parks in cities across the nation,” Rogers noted.

“We agree that difficult choices need to be made about federal spending,” said Rogers. “But supporting a program which has worked well for Americans from Maine to California shouldn’t be a difficult choice.”

“This program has always been supported by both parties, and it still is,” said Rogers. “Currently, there is a bipartisan effort behind ensuring the future of LWCF and that is the kind of visionary action Congress should support.”

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.