[Pittsburgh, PA] – In response to the September 30th expiration of America's most successful conservation and recreation program, the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF), the statewide environmental organization PennEnvironment announced billboards urging Rep. Keith Rothfus (R-12) to support permanent reauthorization and full funding for LWCF.
Over the last 54 years, LWCF has helped preserve and maintain many of Pennsylvania’s—and the nation’s—most iconic places, including the Flight 93 Memorial and the Gettysburg battlefield, as well as hundreds of Pennsylvania’s state and local parks, and recreation sites. The program expired on September 30 when Congress failed to reauthorize this decades-old successful conservation initiative.
“While many local residents may not have heard of the Land and Water Conservation Fund, we’re all familiar with the local places it’s helped protect,” noted PennEnvironment Executive Director David Masur. “From Frick Park and Schenley Park to Settlers Cabin Park and the shores of our Three Rivers, every day local Pittsburghers enjoy the places that LWCF helped make possible.”
“Without much fanfare, LWCF saves the places we love,” added Masur. “It’s funded 1,500 park, open space, and recreational projects in Pennsylvania, to the tune of $315 million. (For information on LWCF projects funded in Pennsylvania, click here). Over the last 50 years, every county in every state of the nation has had at least one conservation project that is a local priority funded. That’s incredible and awe-inspiring.”
The billboard ad, placed in Beaver, Sewickley and Ross Township throughout Rep. Rothfus’ district, calls on concerned citizens to call on him to “demand a vote” on H.R. 502, the bipartisan House bill. Republican leaders in the House have not committed to bring the bill to the floor.
To date, Rep. Rothfus has not cosponsored or publicly voiced support to permanently reauthorize LWCF, and instead voted for an amendment to the Interior-EPA spending bill sponsored by Rep. Andy Biggs (AZ-05) that would have cut $2.4 million from the program. More than 50 House Republicans joined Democrats in a bipartisan rejection of that amendment.
“The LWCF benefits countless Pennsylvanians who love fishing, hunting, hiking, canoeing, and other outdoor recreations, as well as families who enjoy local playgrounds and ballfields and all of us who have a reverence for our history and the sacrifices of our nation’s heroes,” said Masur. “Since LWCF is funded through revenue from offshore oil drilling, it puts no burden on taxpayers. There is no downside to saving this vital program.”
LWCF has bipartisan support, with 8 Republicans and 7 Democrats from Pennsylvania’s congressional delegation cosponsoring or otherwise supporting a bill to keep it alive permanently. Congressman Rothfus must join his Pennsylvania colleagues and call for a vote on that bill.”
“There is simply no reason why this critical and successful program has been allowed to expire,” added Masur. “Congress must take action right away to revive it.”
PennEnvironment will continue to work with our U.S. House and Senate members to get the Land and Water Conservation Fund permanently reauthorized.
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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.