Yesterday afternoon, the Wilderness Society and other groups in the coalition America’s Voice for Conservation, Recreation and Preservation (AVCRP) sent a broad letter urging Congress to invest in natural resource conservation, outdoor recreation, and historic preservation. More than 500 organizations, representing millions of citizens with diverse political backgrounds and areas of interest, have united behind a shared understanding that federal investments in these critical sectors are vital to the future of our nation and historic heritage.
The letter emphasizes the need for a long-term, sustainable federal budget solution that addresses the structural causes of the deficit rather than trying to balance the budget by cutting discretionary spending, including programs that support natural resource conservation, outdoor recreation and historic preservation. It comes at a critical moment as Congress is working on a framework for federal spending allocations before a January 15th deadline to keep the government open.
“If the October government shutdown proved anything, it was that our public lands, open spaces, and outdoor recreation opportunities are key economic drivers for local communities and that they must not only stay open but should be strengthened and protected for future generations,” said Jamie Williams, President of the Wilderness Society.
“Investments in natural resource conservation, historic preservation and outdoor recreation comprise only 1 percent of the federal budget yet provide a return on investment that far exceeds that,” said Lynn Scarlett, Managing Director of Public Policy at The Nature Conservancy. “These three sectors of the economy are responsible for $689 billion in total consumer spending and support nearly 13 million jobs. These jobs are also primarily rural and cannot be exported.”
“Funding to preserve our nation’s historic resources helps define who we are as a people. Without adequate funding for programs like the Historic Preservation Fund and the National Park Service’s historic resource programs, we risk losing irreplaceable connections to the past.” said Tom Cassidy, Vice President of Government Relations and Policy for the National Trust for Historic Preservation. “We are pleased to continue our partnership with AVCRP to protect places that matter.”
“The budget debate affects every conservation program in the country, from how our private and public lands are managed to funding that supports state management of fish and wildlife,” said TRCP President and CEO Whit Fosburgh. “Efforts to gut or completely eliminate investment in conservation, recreation and preservation are counterproductive, because this funding benefits our struggling economy. We urge members of Congress to work together to agree upon a budget that reflects this reality.”
The AVCRP coalition is comprised of a diverse group of organizations that support federal funding for natural resource conservation, outdoor recreation and historic preservation. AVCRP first engaged in the federal budget debate to push back against the drastic spending cuts proposed by legislation in the House of Representatives early in the 112th Congress. The coalition’s economic message is informed by a study carried out by Southwick Associates entitled “The Combined Value of Outdoor Recreation, Natural Resource Conservation and Historic Preservation”. The new letter can be found here.