Great Sand Dunes National Park (Colorado), which was partly funded by the Land and Water Conservation Fund.
Credit: David and Becky, flickr.
Funding for conservation—which includes national parks, forests and wildlife refuges—makes up barely 1 percent of the federal budget. Despite this, these programs are on the chopping block once again as Congress works to pass a budget to fund the government for another fiscal year.
Lawmakers need to hear two things from their constituents:
- We want Congress to pass a comprehensive spending package rather than a series of short-term extensions.
- We want Congress to do it without cutting conservation funding or adding provisions (known as ‘riders‘) that would damage the environment.
A full-year, comprehensive federal budget would guarantee funding for programs like the chronically short-changed Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF), which uses royalties from offshore oil drilling to pay for land protection; and wildfire management, which will help stop the cycle that forces the U.S. Forest Service to divert funds away from other important programs whenever disaster strikes.
North Cascades National Park (Washington), partly funded by LWCF. Credit: Michael Silverman (NPS), flickr.
The government shutdown of 2013, which shut off access to public lands, was a dire reminder of what can happen when lawmakers are unable to come to an agreement on the federal budget. Americans were rightly angered then, and they demanded that our parks and public lands be reopened.
A full-year funding bill would provide a measure of certainty for local communities and land management agencies and help stave off the threat of another shutdown.