Intern and Congress-watcher Jordin Jacobs helps with this report:
Full and dedicated funding for the federal Land and Water Conservation Fund is expected to be considered this week in the context of comprehensive oil spill legislation being considered by the US Congress.
Since its inception in 1965, the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) has helped state agencies and local communities acquire millions of acres of land for conservation, including Idaho’s Sawtooth National Recreation Area. LWCF grants to states have distributed funds to almost every single county in America for over 41,000 projects including parks, sports fields, swimming pools, playgrounds, and trails. LWCF has also funded the protection of over 1.5 million acres of working forests in over 30 states. Idaho Conservation League’s Susan Drumheller tells us that local BLM has used LWCF frequently for their waterfront acquisitions an North Idaho spots that have benefited from LWCF include Cougar Bay and Blue Creek Bay.
LWCF is financed largely through revenue generated in oil and gas leasing. When the LWCF was established, Congress intended that a portion of the oil and gas receipts be dedicated and reinvested in conservation assets across the nation in exchange for the environmental risks inherent in developing finite offshore oil resources. However, in most years, due to tight budgets, Congress and various administrations have diverted funds from their intended purpose.
This year, through the oil spill legislation, it may be possible to fully support of the Land and Water Conservation Fund. We are hopeful that full and dedicated funding will finally be given to conservation for National Parks, forests, wildlife refuges, parks and recreation projects, and other federal lands.
Since it was enacted, LWCF has been the only conservation offset for offshore oil drilling. This year, of all years, it should be fully funded. Give your member of Congress a phone call this week.