Action Alert: Thanking LWCF Champs and Educating New Members


February 11, 2011

 

arrow ALERT: House proposes virtual elimination of Land and Water Conservation Fund

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From Lindsey Levick, Campaign Coordinator,
Land and Water Conservation Fund Coalition

With the 112th Congress now underway and the President’s budget proposal for Fiscal Year 2012 expected to reach Capitol Hill in mid-February, your outreach to congress expressing support of the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) is timely and extremely important.

Our efforts over the past year, with your help, have built tremendous visibility and strong, bipartisan support in both the House of Representatives and the Senate for LWCF. Starting now, we need your help to build upon this success to support and defend funding for this program in the coming year.

As we enter a climate of extreme fiscal restraint, members of Congress need to be reminded that the LWCF program is a wise investment with a dedicated revenue source from offshore oil and gas leasing royalties. Not only does LWCF protect our most treasured places, across the nation, it is a significant driver of tourism, jobs, and local economies. Hunting, fishing, camping, climbing, hiking, paddling, backcountry skiing, mountain biking, wildlife viewing, and other activities contribute a total of $730 billion annually to the economy, supporting 6.5 million jobs (1 of every 20 jobs in the U.S.)

LWCF protects rivers, watersheds and drinking water supplies, while providing access for the many recreational pursuits we all enjoy. Most importantly, LWCF is a program about close to home places we care about with a significant positive impact on our communities. When speaking with members of Congress, be sure to talk about past and present LWCF projects and places that you care about. Click here for the LWCF website with state by state information, member contact information and more.

Here are two important actions you can take to support LWCF right now:

• Thank Returning LWCF Champions: Say “Thank You” to your returning Senator/Representative for their support of LWCF and urge them to continue to be a champion for the program. Thank those Senators who co-sponsored S. 2747, The Land and Water Conservation Authorization Fund Act of 2009 or signed letters in support of LWCF, and Representatives who signed past LWCF Dear Colleague letters. Thank you’s can make a big impression and are never too late!

• Educate New Members about the Importance of LWCF to your State/Community: Educate new members of Congress about the importance of LWCF funding to your communities and your state. To find your representative click here. If you are considering setting up an in-district meeting with a new member or their staff please email info@lwcfcoalition.org to discuss the member ahead of time. The calendar for the 112th Congress has many at home work weeks including next week (January 31-February 4).

Below are talking points for LWCF:

• If you are talking to a champ or a supporter of LWCF, use this initial talking point:-
Thank you for the attention you gave to the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) in the 111th Congress.  Full and dedicated funding of LWCF passed the House as a part of the CLEAR Act last July, and similar language was included in several Senate bills that nearly passed before the end of the session.  Your leadership made these opportunities possible, and we thank you for the consideration you gave LWCF in the previous Congress.  We look forward working with you to meet the promise of LWCF in the 112th Congress

• If you are talking to new members use this talking point:
The Land and Water Conservation Fund helps to protect some of America's most important natural areas: national parks and forests; land by rivers, lakes and oceans; working farms and ranches; fish and wildlife refuges; and state and local parks. The impacts of the program support clean water supplies, jobs and local economies, and our common heritage of natural areas for wildlife, recreation and enjoying nature.

• LWCF invests in important wildlife and recreational habitat, ensuring that there are places to hunt, fish and hike. LWCF provides public access to public lands.

• LWCF protects historic places such as Civil War battlefields across the country.

• Rural partnerships through LWCF easements are a double win-- keeping ranchers and farmers on the land while maintaining wildlife habitat and open space.

• LWCF has significant local support and is a common sense way to protect Americans' clean water and healthy land.

• Unlike many other programs, LWCF is already paid for. LWCF is authorized to receive a very small percentage of offshore drilling revenue - $900 million a year from revenues that typically exceed $6 billion annually. Over the years, however, much of that $900 million has been diverted from its intended purpose in the annual budget and appropriations process. Today, the LWCF has an authorized balance of more than $17 billion - a $17 billion unkept promise. This investment represents less than .00003% of the current annual Federal budget however the economic returns to states and communities are estimated at more than 4 times that investment.

• Outdoor recreation, much of which takes place on lands protected by LWCF, is vital to our nation's economy. Hunting, fishing, camping, climbing, hiking, paddling, backcountry skiing, mountain biking, wildlife viewing, and other activities contribute a total of $730 billion annually to the economy, supporting 6.5 million jobs (1 of every 20 jobs in the U.S.) and stimulating 8 percent of all consumer spending according to the Outdoor Industry Foundation. In addition, a Department of Interior report from 2010 found that 20 jobs are created for every $1 million invested in our recreation economy each year. Full funding of LWCF at $900 million would potentially create tens of thousands of recreation jobs in our local communities each year.

• This is about honest budgeting. It's about whether Congress will finally direct the proceeds of offshore oil drilling to their originally intended purposes for the benefit of all Americans and the places they care about. With $17 billion from oil and gas receipts already credited to LWCF but never spent, and with greater conservation needs than ever before across the country, this is the time to ensure that programs like LWCF are protected from attempts to divert funds for other purposes and to provide an wise investment for all Americans that is good for the local and state economies.

• LWCF is the only account that provides a specific conservation benefit from federal energy development. Now is the time to ensure that LWCF becomes a true dedicated trust fund to protect these receipts from being diverted to unrelated spending. Offshore drilling production has always been predicated on the idea that the depletion of one national, non-renewable natural resource must be balanced by the long-term protection of threatened habitats, beaches, waterways, and other special places across America.

Lindsey Levick, Campaign Coordinator for Land and Water Conservation Fund Coalition

1615 M Street, NW, Washington, DC 20036

(202) 429-2674 - lindsey_levick@tws.org

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