What the funding fight means for national parks

Conservatives and conservationists are clashing over the Land and Water Conservation Fund, a 50-year-old program that Congress let expire on September 30, 2015.

The fund uses royalties from offshore oil drilling to help purchase and develop outdoor recreation areas. It’s led to the creation of tens of thousands of small projects like parks, beaches, trails, hunting and fishing areas, and baseball fields, in addition to funding bigger conservation projects in national parks and wildlife refuges.

Rep. Rob Bishop of Utah, who chairs the House Natural Resources Committee, is the most vocal critic of the law. Bishop has proposed a new law that would significantly reduce money for federal land acquisition. That has environmentalists worried about pending LWCF projects under federal land agencies like the National Park Service and the Bureau of Land Management.

LWCF funds would help, for example, acquire 44 acres of private land within Saguaro National Park outside of Tucson, Arizona, to protect it from development. The money would also go toward obtaining unprotected areas at Olympic National Park in Washington to prevent nearby private properties from discharging sewage in the park’s Lake Quinault.

Environmental groups argue that Bishop is distorting the facts when he describes the fund as a guise for the government to collect more land. According to the Wilderness Society, 99% of Interior Department projects using LWCF funds are used to protect inholdings – lands that are already within the boundaries of a national park or wildlife refuge.

Read full story…

 

Similar Posts: