WASHINGTON, D.C. – Colorado U.S. Senators Michael Bennet (D) and Cory Gardner (R), with a group of 12 bipartisan colleagues, sent a letter urging the Senate Majority and Minority Leaders to permanently reauthorize and fully fund the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) before it expires on September 30.
“The LWCF is one of the country’s best conservation programs, preserving public lands and ensuring access to outdoor recreation in rural and urban areas. For the last half century, it has protected lands, historic sites, national parks, wilderness areas, and urban parks in every state,” the senators wrote. “LWCF has supported more than 42,000 state and local projects. It is critical to protecting natural resource lands and working forests, providing outdoor recreation opportunities and hunting and fishing access, ensuring wildlife habitat, creating urban parks, and protecting our cultural heritage. Investments in this program help our nation’s outdoor recreation, conservation, and preservation businesses, which support millions of
American jobs and contribute $887 billion annually to the economy. It is critical that this program be reauthorized before its expiration on September 30, 2018.”
They pointed out that each year a portion of the federal oil and gas royalties received into the Treasury from the Outer Continental Shelf are deposited in LWCF, which was designed not to use taxpayer dollars. However, since the creation of LWCF in 1965, more than $21 billion from the LWCF trust fund has been diverted from its original conservation and outdoor recreation purposes.
They added, “For the economy, sportsmen, veterans, wildlife, and our kids and grandkids, we must permanently reauthorize LWCF. We also strongly request that you include mandatory full funding in any LWCF reauthorization package.”
Earlier this month, Bennet and Gardner published an op-ed calling for the reauthorization and full funding of LWCF. Bennet and Gardner also have cosponsored legislation to permanently reauthorize and fully fund the LWCF.
The LWCF has supported more than 42,000 state and local projects in communities across the country. The program is funded by a portion of federal oil and gas royalties, operating without any taxpayer funding. However, since its founding in 1965, more than $21 billion has been diverted from the LWCF trust fund to other purposes.
In addition to Bennet and Gardner, signatories include U.S. Senators Maria Cantwell (D-WA), Steve Daines (R-MT), Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Jon Tester (D-MT), Susan Collins (R-ME), Tom Udall (D-UT), Joe Manchin (D-WV), Lamar Alexander (R-TN), Angus King (I-ME), Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), and Martin Heinrich (D-NM).