TPL Applauds National Parks Second Century Commission Report
Washington, D.C., 9/24/2009: The Trust for Public Land (TPL), a national land conservation organization, today applauded a report issued by the National Parks Second Century Commission that highlights the needs and opportunities in our national parks.
To maintain the legacy of our national treasures and to ensure adequate funding for the National Park Service (NPS), the independent Commission’s report outlines a future vision and plan of action to protect critical and threatened lands for all Americans to enjoy. In particular, TPL supports the reports recommendations to fully fund the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF).
“The Land and Water Conservation Fund is the premiere federal program that protects key lands within and around our National Park boundaries,” said Kathy DeCoster, Vice President and Director of Federal Affairs, The Trust for Public Land. “There are intangible and invaluable benefits in preserving public land. They tell the stories of our nation’s natural and cultural heritage. Whether it is learning about Civil Rights history and Martin Luther King Jr. at his boyhood home in Atlanta, Georgia, viewing the night sky in Utah’s Zion National Park, or hiking the Appalachian National Scenic Trail, our heritage is continually being preserved through public places.”
In Ken Burns’ new documentary “The National Parks: America’s Best Idea”, the renowned filmmaker focuses on the National Park system, which protects America’s breathtaking crown jewels of natural resources, historic and cultural treasures, and recreational areas for the public. As profiled in the Burns’ film, the threats facing America’s national parks decades ago are very much the same threats they face today, and that includes funding shortfalls. The LWCF was created by Congress in 1965 to reinvest revenue from offshore oil and gas royalties into protecting America’s natural, cultural, and recreational heritage by acquiring land to ensure that all Americans have access to quality outdoor recreation and our unique history.
From crown jewels to historic homes, from panoramic views to urban greenways, from Native American heritage sites to American battlefields, LWCF has been the key to providing and protecting places for all Americans to play, connect to our past, and get outdoors. Each year, $900 million is suppose to be dedicated to the LWCF, but since its inception, more than $17 billion has been diverted to other uses.
“The Commission rightly recommends full funding for the Land and Water Conservation Fund,” said DeCoster. “And after many years of project backlogs and lost opportunities, law makers have a chance to finally fulfill the promise intended by the creation of the program.”
On September 8, the House Natural Resources Committee included language in the Consolidated Land, Energy, and Aquatic Resources Act of 2009, HR 3534, to permanently dedicate funds to the LWCF at its authorized level of $900 million. At that level, the beleaguered program would finally be able to proactively address backlogged conservation and recreation needs at the state and federal level.
“This fund gives communities the tool to protect their most cherished lands, enhancing the national park experience for everyone,” said DeCoster. “We hope that Congress will restore the LWCF to preserve America’s natural places and create valuable public recreation areas for all Americans.”
The report is available online at www.npca.org/commission.
The Trust for Public Land, established in 1972, is a national nonprofit land conservation organization specializing in conservation real estate, applying its expertise in negotiations, public finance, and law, to conserve land for people to enjoy as parks, gardens, natural areas, ensuring livable communities for generations to come. Across the nation, TPL has helped protect more than 2.8 million acres.