Washington, D.C. was abuzz this month with ranchers, lawyers, land owners and sportsman to advocate for full and dedicated funding of the Land and Water Conservation Fund.
“Walking the marble halls of Congress was quite a change of pace from my usual day to day conservation work in western North Carolina,” recalls Kieran Roe of the North Carolina Mountain Land Conservancy who brought his immense energy and passion for protecting land with him all the way to Senator Burr’s (R-NC) office.
Roe was one of many advocates from conservation groups across the nation who traveled to Washington in a large effort to urge Congress to protect our parks, outdoor spaces and recreation areas by fully funding LWCF. The advocates are members of the LWCF Coalition working to pass LWCF in any relevant legislation when Congress returns.
Roe’s enthusiasm was contagious, as fellow advocate Andrew Chavez of New Mexico added, “Working together with other people from other states felt great, especially when our senator, Senator Bingaman (D-NM), took time to listen to our cause.”
LWCF was established in 1964 to balance the risks of offshore oil and gas production by protecting some of America’s most precious natural resources. LWCF is supposed to receive $900 million per year — a drop in the oil barrel of offshore revenues — but has been shortchanged by Congress nearly every year, with revenues being diverted for other purposes.
“Many of the fishing access sites in Montana received funding assistance from LWCF,” says Jim Watson, an advocate from Montana. “Our own Rails to Trails from Kalispell to Kila used an LWCF grant to purchase right of way in its quest to extend the trail.” Inspired by the meetings in Washington, Watson returned to Montana to publish an article in his local paper, defending the importance of LWCF.
The advocates all left behind a very strong message in Washington—that the fight for ensuring full and dedicated funding for LWCF has strong support across the country. The LWCF Coalition is continuing to urge Congress to include LWCF in any energy bill or other relevant legislation. This would finally fulfill the promise made to Americans 45 years ago to forever protect our land and waters.
“It was very encouraging to be part of this experience,” says Bill Durkin of Friends of Rachel Carson in Maine. “But we all need to keep up the pressure.”
Photo of Jim Watson.
Photo of Bill Durkin.