Ranking Member’s bill, S. 569, passes out of committee 16-7
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Ranking Member of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee Maria Cantwell (D-WA) secured a major win for outdoor recreation and conservation efforts across the country by passing her Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) legislation out of committee. S.569, which would fully fund and reauthorize this landmark conservation program, passed 16-7 and now heads to the Senate floor.
“Since it was enacted 54 years ago, the Land and Water Conservation Fund has helped protect many of the nation’s most popular national parks, forests, and public lands. It has provided millions of Americans the opportunity to hunt, fish, hike, vacation and enjoy the beauty of nature and our great American landscapes,” said Senator Cantwell. “It has pumped billions of dollars into the outdoor economy and provided millions of good jobs."
“Protecting our public lands is good for the environment, it’s good for the economy and it’s good for the health and welfare of our people. Money made available through the Land and Water Conservation Fund is money well spent,” said Senator Cantwell.
The Land and Water Conservation Fund expired on September 30th, marking the second time in three years that Congress failed to reauthorize and fund the program. Senator Cantwell’s legislation will for the first time ensure dedicated, mandatory annual funding for the LWCF at its $900 million authorized level so the program will no longer be subject to appropriation.
“I just think of our veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan, and what they tell me about the peace of mind they get from going to the outdoors,” said Senator Cantwell. “So you bet I am going to fight for what the Senate already voted for, which is permanent reauthorization.”
S. 569 has 46 cosponsors, including Senator Burr (R-NC) and 13 of members the Energy and Natural Resources Committee including every Democratic Senator — as well as Senators Alexander (R-TN), Daines (R- MT), and Gardner (R-CO).
The Land and Water Conservation Fund is a key component of the nation’s robust outdoor recreation economy, which generates over $887 billion in annual consumer spending and supports 7.6 million American jobs. In Washington State alone, the outdoor recreation economy contributes over $26 billion in consumer spending and supports over 200,000 direct jobs.
Popular recreation sites such as Olympic National Park, Lake Chelan and Riverside State Park have been preserved through the LWCF. Washingtonians have benefitted from access to trails and outdoor recreation opportunities, as well as clean air and water preservation, which would not have been possible without the LWCF.
Senator Cantwell announced last week that five Washington State projects will receive more than $2 million in funding. The grants include $500,000 to the City of Edgewood for a new park; $500,000 to Snohomish County for work at Flowing Lake Park; $500,000 to Spokane County for work at Bidwell Park; $448,000 to the City of Shoreline for creek restoration at Shoreview Park; and $300,040 to the City of North Bend and the Si View Metropolitan Park District to create a new park.
Broadcast quality video of Senator Cantwell’s opening statement can be found here.
Broadcast quality audio of Senator Cantwell’s opening statement can be found here.