TPL Urges Congress To Fully Fund LWCF This Year

The Trust for Public Land, a national conservation organization, today urged the Senate to pass legislation when it returns from its summer break that will provide permanent and full funding for land conservation and outdoor recreation.

“We are disappointed that the Senate was unable to take up legislation that fully funds the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) before the August recess. It is critical that the legislation be brought up for a vote when the session resumes in September. Congress must act this year to ensure the future of this important program, which is the federal government’s chief means of acquiring land for the public and supporting state and local park and recreation projects,” said TPL President Will Rogers. “The program is supposed to receive $900 million a year, and it should be funded at that amount.”

Rogers’ comments came after Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., announced the Senate would not consider legislation to fully fund LWCF before the Senate recesses for the summer. The provision is part of a legislative package relating to the Gulf of Mexico oil spill and other energy provisions.

Last Friday, the House approved its version of a bill to fully fund the LWCF program.

“There is still time in the 2010 legislative session for Congress to act and we believe this should be a priority when Congress returns next month,” said Rogers.

“The LWCF was intended as a conservation offset for the sale of America’s offshore oil and gas. It reinvests energy revenues in the protection of some of America’s most precious land resources and provide close-to-home recreational opportunities for Americans in every state in the nation,” said Rogers. “Given the tragic leak of oil in the Gulf of Mexico, the vision behind LWCF is more relevant than ever.”

When it was created in 1964, LWCF was supposed to receive $900 million per year, part of the offshore oil revenues which typically amount to $6 billion or more annually. But Congress has shortchanged the fund every year save one, and it declined to a low of $138 million in 2007.

“This shortfall has resulted in a huge land protection and outdoor recreation backlog of unmet funding needs across our federal public lands, and state and local parks,” said Rogers.

The Trust for Public Land is a national non-profit land conservation organization, which conserves land for people to enjoy as parks, gardens, and other natural places, ensuring livable communities for generations to come. Since it was founded in 1972, TPL has helped protect more than 2.8 million acres in 46 states. TPL depends on the support of individuals, foundations, and corporations.