WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today, the Senate Appropriations Committee voted to allocate $465 million to the Land and Water Conservation Fund for next year. Unfortunately, that is about half of the $900 million it is authorized to receive.
“This is exactly why we need Congress to pass a mandatory full funding bill. Earlier this year, Congress took the necessary step of reauthorizing this important conservation program. Now it needs to keep its promise to America and fully and permanently fund it,” said Tracy Stone-Manning, associate vice president for public lands at the National Wildlife Federation. “The Land and Water Conservation fund has been this nation’s most successful conservation program, supporting parks, hiking and biking trails, hunting and fishing access, local ballfields and waterfront areas in nearly every county in America. It’s time to take the uncertainty out of funding these cherished spaces.”
While the Land and Water Conservation Fund is entitled to receive $900 million every year—taken entirely from offshore oil revenues-- Congress has only allocated the full funding twice in the program’s 54 year history. Mandatory funding would allow LWCF to reach its full potential.
The Land and Water Conservation Fund has always enjoyed broad, bipartisan support on Capitol Hill and across the country. Already, nearly half of all members of Congress have signed on as co-sponsors of the LWCF permanent funding bill.
“We applaud Sen. Lindsey Graham for co-sponsoring the mandatory LWCF funding bill,” said Sara Green, executive director of the South Carolina Wildlife Federation. “As a leader on the Senate Appropriations Committee, we were disappointed that Sen. Graham didn’t insist on full funding for next year’s LWCF budget, but we hope he will ensure that his colleagues vote for the permanent funding bill so we won’t face this situation again.”
In addition to the insufficient funding of LWCF for next year, the Appropriations Committee also included a harmful provision in the Interior Department budget which endangers the imperiled sage grouse. The so-called “no listing rider” would ban sage grouse from being listed as an endangered species. In recent weeks, several reports have shown that sage grouse populations are plummeting in Western states. Earlier this year, the Interior Department dismantled comprehensive sage grouse habitat protection plans that were created by a coalition of Western governors, landowners and conservationists.
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