WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Ranking Member of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee Maria Cantwell (D-WA) and a bipartisan congressional Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) coalition called on Congress to vote on and pass permanent reauthorization and mandatory funding of the LWCF by the end of the year.
“The fact that we give people access to our public lands helps grow jobs, give us recreational opportunities and gives our communities a peace of mind and wholeness that is so important in the United States of America,” 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 LWCF legislation (S.569) which cleared committee in October with bipartisan support would for the first time ensure dedicated, mandatory annual funding for the LWCF.
“We are in the lame duck, and we need to get the LWCF permanently reauthorized and make the down payment for the future of our public lands. Nothing could be more important on our agenda for this lame duck session,” said Senator Cantwell. “It’s time that Congress does not go into 2019 with a big question mark around such an important asset in growing our economy.”
“If nothing else, we owe it to our veterans, to those in our community who recreate on public lands, who hunt, fish and go outdoors to have the peace of mind to know that we are not going to leave Washington, DC with such an important lands bill hanging in the balance…Let’s get this job done for those men and women who have served our country,” said Senator Cantwell.
During the press conference, Senator Cantwell thanked Washington State LWCF coalition members Joanna Grist, Cathy Baker, and Joe Rotter. Echoing Rotter’s statement that “LWCF is one of those ideas that puts everybody around the campfire together, and that is why we have to keep moving forward.”
“The Land and Water Conservation Fund is an instrumental tool for outdoor enthusiasts to protect and preserve wild places for outdoor recreation, including hunting and fishing. The LWCF has supported the protection of recreation areas in Kittitas and Yakima Counties and across Washington, including Yakima River Canyon recreation sites,” said Joe Rotter, managing member of Red’s Fly Shop in Ellensburg. “For 50 years, Congress has kept its bipartisan commitment to safeguard our sporting heritage – it’s time to pass Senator Cantwell’s legislation to ensure these lands are protected for generations to come.”
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.