Land and Water Conservation Program could mean more money for State Parks
The Federal Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) is getting more than one very close second look this year. LWCF funds important land acquisition and conservation programs at the state and federal levels. Congress and the Executive can fund LWCF up to $900 million, but it has not received even close to that amount in many years.
Congressman Norm Dicks, Chair of the Interior Appropriations Committee, is seriously considering legislation that would fully fund LWCF, and Interior Secretary Ken Salazar is exploring using new offshore oil and gas lease revenues to fund LWCF.
Another wrinkle in conversations surrounding the program is burgeoning interest in funding some State Park and Recreation programs with federal dollars. With states facing enormous budget deficits, federal appropriators are considering using dollars that would have traditionally gone to LWCF to make State Parks programs whole. Should that occur, we'd want to make sure that our appropriators understand the value of our entire state lands portfolio--State Parks, Department of Natural Resources and Fish and Wildlife lands alike.
A final 2010 budget is still a long way off, and the House is often more audacious--and faster--than the Senate. Still, it is encouraging to see elected officials consider seriously both LWCF and position the states find themselves in. Particularly elected officials who are in a position to take decisive action.