Senate still needs to approve LWCF funding for parks, open space, and trails


September 1, 2010

arrow On July 30, 2010 full and dedicated funding at $900 million for the Land & Water Conservation Fund passed in the US House of Representatives. The House voted 209-193 to pass the CLEAR Act, H.R. 3534, an oil spill response bill, of which LWCF funding was a significant component.

From the Land and Water Conservation Fund Coalition

Meanwhile, the Senate will consider similar legislation in September when it returns from the August district work period. A draft of the Senate energy package, titled the Clean Energy Jobs and Oil Company Accountability Act (S. 3663), was introduced last week by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV).

Thanks to the conservation commitment of Sen. Reid, Energy and Natural Resources Committee Chairman Jeff Bingaman (D-NM), Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-MT) and other senators, the bill includes guaranteed LWCF funding through 2015, with additional dedicated funding in future years. These funds would allow the program to meet a variety of conservation and recreation needs at the local, state, and federal level.

LWCF was intended to receive $900 million per year from the annual revenues paid to the federal government for offshore oil and gas leases, a total that typically exceeds $6 billion annually. But in the annual budget and appropriations process, much of the LWCF money typically is diverted for other purposes. Only once since 1964 was LWCF fully funded, and the fund dropped to a modern-day low of just $138 million in 2007.

“This is landmark legislation for our national parks and other precious natural and cultural treasures,” said Tom Kiernan, President of the National Parks Conservation Association. “It finally begins keeping the full promise that has been broken for more than four decades, to protect our national parks and other lands and waters using receipts from offshore oil and gas drilling. Now we need the Senate to act, to guarantee that the places Americans most cherish are protected for our children and grandchildren to enjoy.”

The Land and Water Conservation Fund Coalition urges supporters to Take Action: Urge Your Members of Congress to Support Full & Dedicated Funding for LWCF. Urge your Senators to support S. 3663, the Clean Energy Jobs and Oil Company Accountability Act of 2010.

Senators can also show their support for LWCF by becoming a co-sponsor of the Land and Water Conservation Authorization and Funding Act of 2009 (S. 2747). Both bills would dedicate funding for the Land and Water Conservation Fund. Thank your Representative if he or she supported the Consolidated Land, Energy, and Aquatic Resources (CLEAR) Act of 2009 Act (H.R. 3534) providing full and dedicated funding of the Land and Water Conservation Fund as part of this comprehensive energy legislation.

Talking Points

Tell them that full and dedicated funding of the LWCF is necessary to protect our land, water, wildlife and recreation heritage. Investment in parks and public lands:

* supports our local economies enhancing quality of life and the economic vibrancy of our communities;

* protects drinking water sources, wetlands and clean water saving communities billions in water treatment costs;

* ensures recreational opportunities and easy access for camping, hunting, fishing, hiking, biking, paddling and all the other activities enjoyed by Americans at parks close to home and across our great landscapes;

* commemorates our nation's heritage and history from Civil War battlefields to the voyage of Lewis and Clark.

How to Contact Your Members of Congress

In-Person Visit: The very best means of influencing your Members of Congress is with an in-person visit to the Legislator’s office – either in one of their district offices located in your home state, or in Washington, DC if you happen to be visiting the nation’s capital. Call ahead and schedule some time to meet with them. Don’t be discouraged if you can only meet with their staff members. Be polite, make it clear that you are a constituent, use the LWCF talking points, be brief, and they will definitely relay your message back to the Member of Congress.

Phone Calls: The second most effective way of influencing your Members of Congress is with a personal phone call – either to one of their local offices in your home state or to their office in Washington, DC. In this case, it is most likely that you will be speaking to one of their staffers. But once again, be polite, be clear that you are a constituent, use the LWCF talking points, be brief, and they will relay your message back to the Member of Congress. Call your Members of Congress’ Washington office through the Capital Switchboard (202-224-3121).

Personal Letter: A personalized, hand-written or typed letter (as long it doesn’t look like a generic form letter) is the next most effective method of reaching your Members of Congress. House and Senate offices are bombarded with form letters from other advocacy groups, so when they receive a letter that is clearly a personalized one from a constituent, it gets special attention. Click here for a sample letter and instructions for sending your letter.

E-Mail: House and Senate offices are bombarded with form letter e-mails from advocacy groups so that staffers often give less consideration to emails and may be less likely to pass their message on to the Member of Congress. Nevertheless, if you can only send an e-mail be clear at the beginning that you are constituent, make it as personalized as possible, and include the LWCF talking points.

The Land and Water Conservation Fund Coalition is an informal partnership of national, state and local conservation and recreation organizations working together to support full and dedicated funding for LWCF. For more information, go to: www.lwcfcoalition.org

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