TPL Praises House Subcommittee Decisions On Land And Water Fund

WASHINGTON D.C. June 11, 2009: The Trust For Public Land (TPL), a national conservation organization, today praised the House Interior and Environment appropriations subcommittee and its Chairman, Rep. Norm Dicks, D-Wash., for their leadership in upholding President Barack Obama’s commitment to gradually restore funding for 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.

The subcommittee provides $228.8 million for federal and state park and recreation projects through the LWCF, a boost of $57.6 million above last year’s enacted levels. The bill also includes over $79 million for the Forest Legacy Program, an increase of $30 M from last year that will ensure continued conservation of working forests across the nation.

Alan Front, TPL Senior Vice President, said “Thanks to the vision of Subcommittee Chairman Norm Dicks, full committee Chairman Dave Obey, D-Wis., and their colleagues, this bill will safeguard vital lands across America for the public.”

“In recent years, the Subcommittee’s ability to stretch the dollars and to save special places despite a terrifying shortage of available funds has been nothing short of miraculous,” Front said. “But miracles only go so far — and the targeted increases in this bill, in keeping with President Obama’s commitment to conservation, will save myriad landscapes that otherwise would be lost forever. This appropriations bill is just what America’s parks and open spaces need.”

Since 1964, LWCF has added millions of acres to America’s national parks, forests, wildlife refuges, national trails, state and local parks, and other protected lands. In recent years, however, steep 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.

Over its 45 year history, LWCF has provided funding to help protect threatened properties and consolidate parks and open spaces across the nation, from the Florida Everglades and Maine’s Rachel Carson Refuge to the national forests of Wisconsin and Minnesota, the spectacular scenery and habitat of the Greater Yellowstone basin, the historic and cultural values of Gettysburg National Military Park and the fragile ecosystems of Washington’s Cascade Mountains and California’s Sierra Nevada. It has also provided matching funds for thousands of state and local recreation projects, including Little League diamonds, youth soccer fields and state park and forest campsites. The LWCF is primarily funded by the revenues the federal government receives from oil and natural leases off America’s coasts.

The full Appropriations Committee is likely to consider the bill next week, with action on the floor of the House of Representatives soon thereafter. The Senate is preparing to work on a similar bill.

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.