June 29, 2012 – While Ducks Unlimited and its partners celebrate congressional passage of the RESTORE Act this week as part of the transportation bill, another key conservation program, the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF), did not fare as well.
Despite broad bipartisan support for LWCF in both houses of Congress, and urging from more than 1,000 constituent organizations representing millions of Americans in all 50 states, the final transportation bill approved by the conference committee did not include a Senate-passed provision to fund the Land and Water Conservation Fund at $700 million per year for the next two years, and to reauthorize the program through 2022.
"Congress had a tremendous opportunity to support our conservation legacy by funding LWCF in the transportation bill, but, unfortunately, chose not to include it in the final version," DU Chief Conservation Officer Paul Schmidt told the LWCF Coalition after the bill was passed out of committee. "They missed an opportunity to provide sufficient funding in key conservation areas like the Dakota Grasslands, and it is disappointing because the 'making public lands public' provision that would have ensured funding for recreational access was also lost in the process."
LWCF is funded by royalties paid for offshore oil and gas leases in waters that belong to all Americans. LWCF uses those revenues—which do not derive from taxpayer dollars—to protect other important resources for the benefit of the American public, from national parks, forests, trails, historic sites and wildlife refuges to state and local parks and community ball fields.
"Sportsmen and women across the country depend on the public lands supported by LWCF, and this public lands legacy is even more important as there are fewer opportunities to hunt on private lands," Schmidt said.
Ducks Unlimited has worked closely with others in the conservation community, including the Outdoor Industry Association and The Nature Conservancy, to educate members of Congress on the importance of LWCF to its more than 1 million supporters. DU and its partners remain committed to securing more certain and more robust funding from LWCF to meet conservation objectives.
Read more about LWCF and the transportation bill from the LWCF Coalition at http://www.lwcfcoalition.org/files/LWCF_TransportationBill_FINAL_06-28-2012.pdf.