WASHINGTON, D.C. - Sen. Jeff Bingaman (D-NM) and Max Baucus (D-MT) have introduced legislation to permanently provide $900 million to the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF). The program will provide $450 million annually to states and local communities for close-to-home parks and outdoor recreation facilities. Additionally, $450 million will be available annually to the four federal land managing agencies for national parks, forests, refuge acquisitions for land protection, and critical conservation.
Sen. Bingaman stated, "Since its inception in 1964, LWCF has led to the protection of more than five million acres of land and water across the country, including such irreplaceable landscapes as the Grand Canyon National Park in Arizona, the redwood forests in California, the Rocky Mountain Front in Montana, and Denali National Park and Preserve in Alaska."
Bingaman continued, "Equally important, this program's flexibility means that it also is used to protect what is sometimes most valuable to our communities-the lesser-known special places virtually in our own backyard." LWCF state assistance has provided more than 41,000 state and local projects in 98 percent of all U.S. counties.
The National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA) and a broad coalition of conservation and recreation organizations support S. 2747, and have pledged to work toward generating further public support for the bill.
"We are seeing significant support of close-to-home parks and outdoor recreation opportunities," said Stacey Pine, chief government affairs officer for NRPA. "Local bond issues for parks and recreation pass over 64 percent percent of the time. New Jersey just elected a conservative tax-cutting governor and at the same time approved a $400 million bond for state and local parks, conservation and historic preservation."
"With the Ken Burns PBS documentary on national parks, and national conservation thought leaders gathering across the country, making bold recommendations and creating a national dialogue, Americans are vocalizing that their iconic national parks as well as the close-to-home outdoor experience is something that they want to secure and be a mainstay in their lives," said Barbara Tulipane, CEO of NRPA.
Each year, $900 million goes into LWCF from oil and gas leases on federal land. However, Congress has often diverted the money for other purposes, putting forth 100% of the money for its original intent only once in the history of the fund. This year, the fund saw its greatest allocation in many years at more than $300 million-one third of the full allocation.
"Because the money hasn't been spent as intended, there is a backlog of more than $30 billion worth of lands that federal agencies would like to protect. In addition, states say they have a huge unmet need for local parks and recreation resources totaling more than $27 billion in eligible projects," said Pine.
"NRPA believes it's imperative that full funding is provided for LWCF," said Tulipane. "Parks, refuges, forests and other public lands, and the development of close-to-home outdoor recreation facilities greatly enhance communities' quality of life. Not only do they provide opportunities for physical activity and stress reduction, they also provide local jobs, increase home values, and attract new residents, businesses and revenues," said Tulipane.
For more information on NRPA's legislative initiatives, contact Stacey Pine, chief government affairs officer, at (202) 887-0290 or email@example.com
The National Recreation and Park Association is a national not-for-profit organization dedicated to advancing park, recreation and conservation efforts that enhance quality of life for all people. Through its network of some 21,000 recreation and park professionals and citizens, NRPA encourages the promotion of healthy lifestyles, recreation initiatives, and conservation of natural and cultural resources.
Headquartered in Ashburn, Va., NRPA works closely with local, state, and national recreation and park agencies, citizen groups and corporations to carry out its objectives. Priorities include advocating favorable legislation and public policy; continuing education for park and recreation professionals and citizens; providing professional certification, university accreditation, research and technical assistance; and, increasing public awareness of the importance of parks and recreation. For more information, visit www.nrpa.org
. For digital access to NRPA's flagship publication, Parks & Recreation, visit www.parksandrec-magazine.org