The Washington Wildlife and Recreation Coalition has called on Congress to restore the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF), which it calls “the nation’s most effective outdoor recreation and conservation grant program.”
Congress allowed the fund to expire on Sept. 30, the first time since it was created in 1964 by Washington Senator Henry “Scoop” Jackson.
LWCF has invested over half a billion dollars for state and federal land conservation projects in Washington state alone, providing grants to hundreds of state and local parks, trails, fishing access sites, and recreational facilities, and supporting working forests, according to the wildlife and recreation coalition.
Places in Washington protected by the fund include Mt. Rainer National Park, Colville National Forest, the Pacific Crest Trail and Deception Pass State Park.
“It is a profound disappointment that … Congress eliminated a bipartisan program supported by more than 85 percent of the American people,” said Vlad Gutman, senior policy director of the Washington Wildlife and Recreation Coalition, a group of 280 corporate and nonprofit partners.
“We need Congress to quickly correct this and permanently reauthorize LWCF to preserve our economy, quality of life, and outdoor heritage,” Gutman said.
He said LWCF forms the foundation of Washington’s outdoor recreation economy, which supports nearly 200,000 jobs, according to research commissioned by the state’s Recreation and Conservation Office.
Washington Senators Maria Cantwell and Patty Murray have issued statements calling on their colleagues to reauthorize LWCF in the months leading up to the fund’s expiration.