On Wednesday, the House Committee on Natural Resources voted 21-12
to advance H. R. 3195, the Land and Water Conservation Fund Permanent
Funding Act. The act was sponsored by Representative Jeff Van Drew (D-NJ)
and has 60 cosponsors. It was introduced by a bipartisan group
of Representatives, including Chairman Grijalva (D-AZ), Brian Fitzpatrick
(R-Pa.), Ruben Gallego (D-AZ), Gregorio Kilili Camacho Sablan (D-MP), Jared
Huffman (D-CA), Debra Haaland (D-MN), TJ Cox (D-CA), Alan Lowenthal
(D-CA), John Katko (R-NY) and Lee Zeldin (R-NY).
Van Drew’s bill would permanently and fully fund the popular Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF), ensuring that funding set aside for the program cannot be diverted for unrelated purposes. An identical bill, S. 1081, was introduced in the Senate and is supported by 41 cosponsors. The bipartisan Senate bill is awaiting a hearing in the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources.
“On behalf of all Trout Unlimited members, I’d like to thank Chairman Grijalva, Representative Van Drew and the Natural Resources Committee for their commitment to making the Land and Water Conservation Fund whole,” said Steve Moyer, vice president of government affairs for Trout Unlimited. “LWCF’s promise is to guarantee places for all Americans to get outside and experience our natural heritage. Today Congress is one step closer to fulfilling this promise.”
Because LWCF is primarily paid for by oil and gas leasing in the Outer Continental Shelf, the program costs taxpayers nothing, but has helped fund projects in every county in the nation. LWCF projects include public fishing access sites on popular fisheries like the Missouri River in Montana, Letort Spring Run in Pennsylvania, the Brule River in Wisconsin and many other rivers, lakes and streams.
“The House Natural Resources Committee has done its job and now it’s up to the full House to pass this bill,” continued Moyer. “It’s also critical for the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee to take up the legislation. LWCF is a proven success and we look forward to working with members on both sides of the aisle to make sure local governments and public land managers get the funding they are due to sustain our outdoor traditions.”
The Administration’s FY20 budget eliminated discretionary funding for LWCF, underscoring why full, dedicated funding is so important. Even though LWCF funding doesn’t come from taxpayers, the program invariably gets hamstrung by politics and unrelated budget battles. The Land and Water Conservation Fund Permanent Funding Act would prevent this from happening in the future.