After 52 years, program protecting Valley Forge, Gettysburg Park expires Sunday due to Congressional inaction
[Philadelphia, PA] -- America's most successful conservation and recreation program is expected to expire this Sunday, September 30. The Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) has protected some of Pennsylvania’s most iconic places over the last 52 years.
“While it's likely that few Pennsylvanians have heard of this program, every Pennsylvanian has enjoyed the places it's protected," stated Jessica Bellwoar, PennEnvironment’s Conservation Associate. "From Gettysburg to the Delaware Water Gap to the Flight 93 Memorial, the Land and Water Conservation Fund has protected the places we love. Now we call on Congress to protect the Land and Water Conservation Fund."
The Land and Water Conservation Fund’s legacy has protected iconic places as well as local open spaces that often serve as the backbone to Pennsylvania’s communities (For a full list of LWCF projects funded in Pennsylvania, click here).
LWCF has helped fund the creation and maintenance of more than 1,500 projects in Pennsylvania, investing more than $315 million in the Commonwealth since 1964. But the nation’s preeminent conservation program could now be left on the cutting room floor if Congress does not approve legislation to permanently reauthorize the Land and Water Conservation Fund. If the federally-funded program expires, much-needed conservation projects across the nation will suffer from lack of funding, protection, maintenance, and future acquisition of public land for recreational use.
“Environmental groups, outdoor enthusiasts, fishing and hunting organizations, and local officials are calling on Congress to move swiftly to resuscitate this program in the upcoming weeks before finishing the congressional session.” said Bellwoar. “"It doesn't matter if you're a Democrat or Republican--Pennsylvanians from all walks of life, all political affiliations, and every corner of the Commonwealth can all agree: we all enjoy the outdoor places that make the state and nation great, and we want our elected officials to make sure that we can continue to protect them for our kids and grandkids to enjoy."
Even in an era of hyperpolarization in politics, LWCF has always historically received strong bipartisan support. While there is broad bipartisan support on the Hill, as often happens in Congress legislators wait until the last possible moment to accomplish things. For example, just 2 weeks ago the U.S. House of Representatives’ Committee on Natural Resources moved forward legislation to reauthorize LWCF.
Pennsylvania's top elected officials have pleaded with federal leaders in Congress to renew this cornerstone conservation program.
“Congress must act to save this important community development and conservation tool for states and local communities,” Governor Tom Wolf stated. “Our economy depends on strong and attractive communities for businesses and workers to move, stay, and grow. Congress needs to permanently reauthorize the Land and Water Conservation Fund without delay.”
“Pennsylvania's outdoor recreation industry supports 251,000 jobs, generates $86 billion in wages, contributes $1.9 billion in revenue and produces $30 billion in consumer spending,” U.S. Senator Bob Casey said. “These recreation areas, as well as national parks, historic sites and trails, are economic drivers and allow Pennsylvanians to protect and preserve pieces of the state's unique landscape. It is essential that Congress provides consistent and sufficient funding for the LWCF to ensure that these sites and others throughout the country can continue to be enjoyed by generations to come.”
The Land and Water Conservation Fund has funded over 40,000 projects across the United States since 1964 and allocates more than $900 million dollars annually to states. The money is collected from gas and oil royalties and no taxpayer dollars are used.
PennEnvironment will continue to work with our U.S. House and Senate members to get the Land and Water Conservation Fund permanently reauthorized as soon as possible so our parks stay beautiful.
PennEnvironment is a citizen-based, statewide environmental advocacy organization working to ensure clean air, clean water, and protecting Pennsylvania’s great natural heritage. For more information about this and other PennEnvironment projects, visit www.PennEnvironment.org.