Obama Budget Increases Land And Water Fund

WASHINGTON, D.C., 2/26/2009: The budget proposed by President Barack Obama on Thursday proposes to sharply increase investment in public lands through the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF), the federal government’s primary program to protect America’s irreplaceable natural, historic, recreational, and other treasured landscapes.

“This will be a terrific gift from the President to all Americans,” said Alan Front, Senior Vice President of the Trust for Public Land (TPL). “Over the past few years, even with the heroic efforts of some key players in Congress, the Land & Water Conservation Fund has struggled along at historic low levels. As a result, our nation has lost more and more of the scenic beauty, recreational opportunities, fish and wildlife habitat, and cultural heritage that feed our national spirit.”

“The commitment to turn that around will make miracles happen,” said Front. “President Obama and his natural resource team, including longtime conservation leaders like Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, deserve our thanks and our help as they work to protect the places Americans care about.”

Since 1964, LWCF has protect millions of acres by adding them to America’s national parks, forests, wildlife refuges, national trails, state and local parks, and other protected lands. In recent years, however, precipitous declines in annual funding through the program have led to an enormous backlog of priority conservation properties, and to incompatible and often devastating development within these otherwise protected public assets.

President Obama proposes a budget of $420 million for the LWCF in the fiscal year which begins Oct. 1, 2009. For the current year, Congress is now considering legislation which would provide $171 million for the LWCF program and another $57 million for the federal Forest Legacy Program, which helps protect working forests around the nation. The President’s budget also proposes to provide full funding of $900 million a year by 2014 for LWCF.

LWCF has saved threatened properties and consolidated parks and open spaces from the Florida Everglades and Maine’s Rachel Carson Refuge to the national forests of Wisconsin and Minnesota, to the spectacular scenery and habitat of the Yellowstone basin, to the fragile ecosystems of the Washington’s Cascade Mountains and California’ Sierra Nevada. It is primarily funded by the revenues the federal government receives from oil and natural leases off America’s coasts.

The Trust for Public Land, 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. TPL has protected more than 2.5 million acres across the country.