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LWCF State Assistance Advocacy Continues

The Corps leadership has been presented with a new recreation strategy developed by Corps staff and a diverse group of recreation and conservation organizations.

From National Recreation and Park Association

For the fourth year in a row, park and recreation advocates are faced with the threat of termination of the Land and Water Conservation Fund state assistance program. For each of the past three years, NRPA has led a coalition of national organizations in a fight to restore funds to the LWCF state assistance program, but the stakes are even higher this year due to the very uncertain budget situation and the state of the national economy.

The LWCF state assistance program has been one of the most valuable partnership programs in the history of the Department of the Interior. LWCF provides 50/50 matching grants through the National Park Service to states and local communities to provide public park and recreation infrastructure and the purchase land for the creation of new public parks. NRPA has coordinated a vigorous nationwide advocacy effort to support this vital program in both the House and the Senate, encouraging the U.S. Congress to provide adequate funding for a sustainable, reliable program.

The U.S. Congress has responded with strong support for LWCF in FY 2009. In the Senate, Sen. Ken Salazar (D-CO) and Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) co-sponsored a Dear Colleague letter requesting the Interior Appropriations subcommittee to provide $125 million for LWCF State Assistance. The letter was delivered to the Senate Interior Appropriations Subcommittee Chairman with 50 Senators signing on in support, the highest number of Senate co-signers in the past four years.

In the House, a similar effort was initiated by Reps. James McGovern (D-MA), Rush Holt (D-NJ), and Peter King (R-NY). Their Dear Colleague letter, which was co-signed by 118 House members, also requested the Interior Appropriations subcommittee to fund LWCF state assistance at $125 million.

NRPA along with a coalition of national organizations continues to advocate for this very important and worthwhile program and strongly opposes the proposed termination of the program as proposed in the President’s 2009 budget request.

Advocates should be prepared to mobilize support quickly, depending on how the 2009 Appropriations process plays out. There has been some speculation that there will be no Interior Appropriations bill reported out this year due to the budgetary politicking that takes place prior to every Presidential election. This could change at a moment’s notice and advocates must be prepared to respond if this bill moves forward. If, as expected by some observers, there is no Appropriations bill for 2009, then it is likely that a Continuing Resolution (CR) will be passed by Congress, and the Departments will likely be funded at 2008 levels (as they were the previous year when a CR was passed for 2008).

To view the Senate Dear Colleague Letter:

http://www.nrpa.org/content/default.aspx?documentId=7401

To view the House Dear Colleague Letter:

http://www.nrpa.org/content/default.aspx?documentId=7402

To view a list of signers to the House letter:

http://www.nrpa.org/content/default.aspx?documentId=7407

For more information contact Mike Phillips at (202)887-0290, mphillips@nrpa.org

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