October 24, 2011
October 24, 2011: The Senate released their Interior bill discussion draft last Friday and recommended funding level of $350 million for LWCF. In addition to this encouraging Senate news, we also have good work being done on the House side. As we had been reporting for the last several weeks, the members who had worked on our floor amendment to the Interior bill in July wanted to send a letter urging Chairman Simpson to provide strong levels of funding for LWCF in FY 12. Read more and see talking points...
September 7, 2011: Environment & Energy Daily reported comments from Senator Jack Reed, Chairman of the Senate Interior and Environment Appropriations Subcommittee, stating that "our major focus has to be on those programs that produce jobs," and in that context, "senators will have a difficult time making the case for land acquisition projects under the Land and Water Conservation Fund." I vehemently disagree, and hope you will understand that my state urgently needs LWCF funding this year (mention projects that were included in the President's budget from your state). I urge you to (insist that Chairman Reed) mark LWCF up at a robust level to take care of urgently needed projects.
*In contrast to Chairman Reed's remarks, LWCF represents BOTH conservation spending AND job creation; it is not an either/or proposition. The outdoor industry is one of the most healthy sectors of our economy, despite recent slow growth overall. The Leisure Trends Group Outdoor RetailTRAK reported that in July 2011, outdoor consumers spent more than the average 4% year-over-year increase in consumer spending reported by the National Retail Federation. Outdoor specialty sales rose 7%, outdoor chain sales climbed 12% and outdoor online specialty sales jumped 14%, according to Leisure Trends. July sales at specialty, chain and Internet outdoor retailers totaled almost $450 million.
*Cuts to LWCF undermine the economic asset that our federal, state and local public lands represent. Hunting, fishing, camping, and other outdoor recreation 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% of all consumer spending, according to the Outdoor Industry Foundation.
*Moreover, appropriators should understand that when LWCF buys inholdings like the ones we're asking for this year, it eliminates management conflicts and saves management dollars, so it's an investment that pays off in their out-year allocations. Opportunities to acquire these lands sometimes come along only once a generation, and land managers need the flexibility to set priorities and leverage investment using small grants through LWCF.
*And by the way, these dollars are coming into the Treasury from offshore drilling receipts, as a specific revenue source for projects like mine that cannot wait; we should be spending those dollars on their intended conservation purposes and not diverting them to a general funding stream with no accountability. LWCF is not paid for with taxpayer dollars, but a small portion of revenues from offshore energy development that have been segregated for natural resource conservation and outdoor recreation programs, as an offset for the depletion of oil and gas resources in the OCS that belong to us all. Diverting these funds goes against the promise to the American public that Congress made in 1965.
*LWCF already received a 33% cut in last year's Continuing Resolution. Further cuts MUST be rejected by the Senate. These cuts would do real, irreversible damage to the places Americans care about and depend on, with minimal impact on our nation's budget deficit.
*The provisions in the FY 12 bill reported out by the House Appropriations Committee represent a sharp and unprecedented departure from the nation's decades-long commitment to land and water conservation. That reversal would be a huge mistake, and the content of bill should be rejected. The Senate must do better, and that effort begins with a strong allocation for LWCF in the FY12 legislation drafted by Chairman Reed and the Interior and Environment Subcommittee.
TALKING POINTS: Here’s why your support of the Land and Water Conservation Fund is important to America:
LWCF is good for the economy
*LWCF investments are essential to diverse facets of the American economy. They enhance public lands that are critical to tourism and recreation spending across the nation. They maintain natural resources that are vital to the economic survival of gateway communities. They preclude incompatible development that otherwise would impose unsupportable burdens of public budgets for water treatment, fire suppression, and other essential services.
*Acquisition of conservation easements using LWCF protects jobs in timber, ranching and other traditional land-based economies. To date, LWCF has secured thousands of acres through these types of easements – on lands where traditional land uses, economies, and jobs would have been lost without LWCF.
*The Outdoor Industry Foundation reports that recreation contributes $730 billion annually to the U.S. economy and supports nearly 6.5 million jobs across the U.S. When land is developed rather than conserved, the benefits to the outdoor recreation economy are lost forever.
LWCF is good for America's communities and our public lands
*LWCF funding protects resource lands, community water supplies, recreational access for sportsmen and public land users, and wildlife habitat.
*Loss of these LWCF lands would exacerbate ownership fragmentation and diminish important public values, making public lands more difficult to manage, increasing management costs, and degrading natural resources.
*Public lands protect critical natural resources such as clean drinking water and wetlands. Loss of these resources has a direct impact on local communities and their residents.
*LWCF also protects Civil War and Revolutionary War battlefields and other irreplaceable American cultural sites. Without adequate LWCF funding, currently threatened sites will be sold, developed, and lost forever.
*For these and other reasons, Americans overwhelmingly support LWCF. A recent bipartisan poll showed that 86% of voters nationally support committing LWCF’s OCS revenues to the program, with 77% specifically supporting annual funding at LWCF’s full authorized level of 900 million per year.
LWCF is good for recreational access
* LWCF investments ensure public access to recreation for hunting, fishing and other outdoor activities. This, in turn, has a positive economic impact on the outdoor industry and tourism economies.
*There is an urgent need for the improved public access that LWCF provides. Over 75% of all Americans hike, hunt, fish, paddle, and/or participate in the other outdoor activities our public lands host. Many key public resources, however, remain inaccessible; for example, nearly 1/3 of our nation’s 15,000 miles of national scenic trails are not open to the public.
LWCF is good for helping to reduce management costs
*LWCF funds are used mainly to secure inholdings – lands within existing public land boundaries. Filling these gaps typically does not add to management or staffing costs. In many cases, it does resolve management conflicts, thus reducing those costs.
*Public lands act as a buffer against forest fires. Development of these lands will dramatically increase firefighting costs. Between 2002 and 2006, the federal government spent $6.3 billion to fight fires threatening these private developments bordering public lands.
Lindsey Levick, Campaign Coordinator for Land and Water Conservation Fund Coalition
1615 M Street, NW, Washington, DC 20036
(202) 429-2674 - firstname.lastname@example.org