The House Of Representatives Should Stand Up For Public Lands

The disproportionate cuts proposed to The Land and Water Conservation Fund could have disastrous impacts across the country.

The House Appropriations Subcommittee on Interior and the Environment released its draft bill for fiscal year 2018 yesterday and it ignores the Trump Administration’s harmful proposal to starve the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF). However, we are deeply disappointed in the bill’s proposed funding level for LWCF —a disproportionate cut of 32 percent. We urge Congress to do more to address outdoor recreation and conservation needs on our public lands and in communities across the nation. The American public expects Congress to better reflect overwhelming bipartisan public support for LWCF—America’s most successful conservation program.

The reckless proposal to wipe out the funding that protects our national parks and public lands is completely out of step with America’s values and ignores the broad bipartisan support in Congress for the Land and Water Conservation Fund. The conservation of our national parks and outdoor heritage has always been an area of bipartisan agreement and support from citizens across the country. That’s because our public lands are a defining aspect of our national character— providing access for people to hunt, fish, hike, camp, experience the incomparable American landscape, and participate in our robust outdoor recreation economy: an $887 billion sector supporting 7.6 million American jobs. LWCF also funds close-to-home recreation—from playgrounds to ballfields.

Continued proposals to cut the Land and Water Conservation Fund, such as those in the House bill, display a complete disregard for our environment and the public lands used for recreation by millions of American families. There is no economic justification for proposals that pull the rug out from ongoing collaborative local, state, and federal efforts aimed at supporting parks, trails and other outdoor recreation needs.

Recent LWCF allocations have been instrumental in securing additional access to the Appalachian Trail and protecting key lands in Saguaro and Rocky Mountain National Parks, as well as opening up hunting access in Arizona, protecting working forests and drinking water in northwest Montana and building new parks in Denver. Critical “now-or-never’” conservation projects are in the queue across the country, including key lands along the Pacific Crest Trail, hunting and fishing access in Montana’s Lolo National Forest, and many other key sites.

If enacted by Congress, these cuts would wreak havoc on our outdoor economy and the millions of jobs it supports in our local communities, and will undermine towns and cities working right now to create a clean and healthy future. We look forward to working with members of Congress from both parties to protect the parks, lands and programs that Americans love and need to provide so many jobs for communities across the nation.

We urge all Americans who care about parks and public lands to take action and tell Congress why these places are vital to our country and families.

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