Major Conservation Funding at Risk
Summer in the Mountains to Sound Greenway is prime time to celebrate all that our parks and public lands have to offer. Some of my highlights this summer have been hikes to Mason Lake and Mount Defiance, explorations in the Middle Fork Snoqualmie Valley, birdwatching in the LT Murray Wildlife Area, and picnics at Lake Sammamish State Park. Maybe you biked around Green Lake, fished the Yakima River, paddled along Mercer Slough, or just soaked in some sunshine at Gasworks Park.
All these places have something in common: they are all available to us today thanks to the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF). In fact, the LWCF has helped conserve more than 80,000 acres of public land and improve dozens of city, county, and state parks across the Greenway.
The LWCF is the most important national funding source for conserving public land and improving parks and trails across the country. But it is currently in danger.
LWCF is funded by a small portion of the revenue from offshore oil and gas leases; it doesn’t use any taxpayer dollars. Since its bipartisan creation by Congress in 1965, the LWCF has provided more than $18 billion in support of community projects in all 50 states and nearly every county. These projects, in turn, provide endless opportunities for people to get outdoors with family and friends, and to reap the benefits of healthy outdoor activities.
However, the LWCF will expire on September 30, 2018 unless Congress passes a bill to reauthorize it.
We all know how valuable our parks and public lands are in our community. And we know that we need to make more such investments if we want to make outdoor opportunities available for everyone in our growing region. That’s why it is vitally important for Congress to permanently reauthorize and fund the LWCF. Fortunately, our Congressional leaders from the Greenway are all LWCF champions. Senators Maria Cantwell and Patty Murray, and Representatives Dave Reichert, Suzan DelBene, Pramila Jayapal, and Adam Smith are all co-sponsors of legislation to permanently reauthorize the LWCF.