On September 13, the U.S. House Natural Resources Committee took action to amend legislation (HR 502) calling for permanent reauthorization of the federal Land and Water Conservation Fund. Tom Cors, a spokesperson for the Land and Water Conservation Fund Coalition and director of government relations for The Nature Conservancy issued this statement supporting the action:
With just 17 days left until expiration, the LWCF Coalition applauds Chairman Bishop and Ranking Member Grijalva for working out a compromise that has, at long last, advanced permanent reauthorization of LWCF through the House Natural Resources Committee. This breakthrough recognizes the overwhelming bipartisan support in Congress for America’s most important conservation and recreation program.
It is a critical step forward for LWCF and the countless communities who rely on it to provide public access to the outdoors, bolster their economies, safeguard key historic sites, and conserve irreplaceable natural and recreation landscapes. We also commend Representatives Grijalva and Costello [from Chester County, PA] for introducing legislation to provide the dedicated full funding LWCF needs to protect these places.
The bill, a companion to the Burr-Cantwell bill that has attracted 48 bipartisan cosponsors in the Senate, guarantees federal offshore energy revenues are reinvested in essential conservation and recreation through LWCF. As the Committee moves to advance legislation allocating these energy revenues for other purposes, it is vital that Congress provides that same guarantee of funding to LWCF. The pre- existing commitment to LWCF must be honored along with these new commitments, and we will not rest until LWCF receives permanent reauthorization as well as full and dedicated funding.
While this is an important milestone, there is more work to be done. As the clock ticks down on LWCF’s current authorization, we look forward to working with the program’s many House and Senate champions to reauthorize and fully fund LWCF, ensuring that the revenue gained from the depletion of one natural resource is finally dedicated for the permanent protection of our shared outdoor heritage.
To date, LWCF has provided more than $309 million in funding support to Pennsylvania, from well-known places like the Flight 93 National Memorial, Appalachian Trail, and the Middle Creek Wildlife Management Area in Lebanon County to local projects like public park development and improvement in counties and municipalities across the commonwealth. Click here for more background on LWCF projects funded in Pennsylvania.