LWCF Supporters Rally in Washington, DC

Washington, DC, 4/26/2006: Members of Congress joined conservation and industry leaders today at a rally in support of increased federal funding for the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) in Washington, DC.

Alan Front, Senior Vice President of the Trust for Public Land (TPL), was among those in attendance at the rally. Front praised the attendees who came from across the country in support of the LWCF and who represent critical places in need of LWCF funding. He also applauded the members of Congress in attendance, who have been stalwart leaders of this program, including U.S. Senator Ken Salazar and U.S. Congressmen James McGovern, Mike Fitzpatrick, Mark Udall and Rush Holt.

“The LWCF has been an integral funding source in establishing and maintaining the nation’s priceless network of national parks, forests, and refuges, which is the envy of the world, as well as providing grants to local communities for their recreational needs,” said Front. “These acquisition funds have been used in the past to preserve such crown jewels as Everglades National Park, Rocky Mountain National Park, and the Appalachian Trail. Without these funds, critical lands like these could have been lost forever.”

Established in 1965, the LWCF is authorized by Congress to receive $900 million annually in funding, a level that has been met only once despite a designated funding source – the royalty receipts from offshore drilling leases. The shortfall in funding has led to a backlog of land acquisition projects of approximately $10 billion, according to federal land agencies (National Park Service, U.S. Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management and Fish and Wildlife Service).

The LWCF stateside grants program has helped states and local communities build parks, playing fields, trails, and preserve open spaces throughout the country. Stateside LWCF project sites include New York City’s Central Park, Golden Gate Park in San Francisco, and Custer State Park in South Dakota, as well as thousands of local playgrounds, soccer fields, and baseball diamonds.

Voters across the country are eager to protect the unique landscapes of their communities by passing local and state ballot measures for land conservation. On November 8, 2005, voters in 67 communities across the country approved 49 conservation ballot measures generating over $650 million in open space funds. Overall in 2005, voters in 22 states approved 106 of 134 ballot measures: a 79 percent passage rate. The measures will generate over $1.7 billion in new conservation funding.

This year, TPL is working with Congress, states, willing landowners, and local communities across the country to secure funds from the LWCF for the protection of critical recreational and wildlife resources including key lands at Rachel Carson National Wildlife Refuge, Maine; Cape Cod National Seashore, Massachusetts; Cumberland Gap National Park, Kentucky/Tennessee; Big Sur Ecosystem, California; Bonneville Shoreline Trail, Utah; Mt. Rainier National Park, Washington; Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, Montana; Silvio O. Conte National Wildlife Refuge, Massachusetts; and Stewart B. Mckinney National Wildlife Refuge, Connecticut.

“It is important that Congress restores meaningful LWCF levels so that America’s important open spaces are protected for our future generations,” added Front.

The Trust for Public Land (TPL), established in 1972, specializes in conservation real estate, applying its expertise in negotiations, public finance, and law to protect land for people to enjoy as parks, greenways, community gardens, urban playgrounds, and wilderness. With funding from the federal Land & Water Conservation Fund, state and local open-space funds, and other public and private investments, TPL has helped to protect more than 2.1 million acres across the country. For more information, visit TPL on the web at www.tpl.org.