PHILADELPHIA, PA -- The U.S. Senate passed a public lands package yesterday that permanently reauthorizes the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF), a historically bipartisan program that has funded projects in every Pennsylvania county and in all 50 states since its inception in 1965. The program, which expired last September, has supported everything from the expansion and maintenance of local parks and recreation centers to national forests, national parks and historical sites.
In Pennsylvania, LWCF has helped fund the creation and maintenance of more than 1,500 projects investing more than $315 million in the Commonwealth.
“Pennsylvanians want our parks, forests and recreational places to stay beautiful and well-funded,” said Jessica Bellwoar, Conservation Associate for PennEnvironment. “Thankfully we’re seeing movement on reviving this program, and we applaud the U.S. Senate for getting the job done and not letting it fall through the cracks.”
Since LWCF funding expired, public lands projects have lost more than $300 million in revenue. While the Senate bill that passed yesterday permanently renews the program, it does not fully fund the program at the initial $900 million a year levels.
While the vote passed 92-8, sadly, Pennsylvania’s Senator Pat Toomey was one of the only senators to oppose renewing the program. PennEnvironment applauded U.S. Senator Bob Casey for his longstanding support of LWCF and voting in favor of the proposal.
During the months leading up to and after the program expired, PennEnvironment collected over 5,000 petitions calling on Senators Casey and Toomey, and Pennsylvania’s congressional delegation to permanently reauthorize the program.
To build support for reauthorizing the Land and Water Conservation Fund, PennEnvironment also met with members of the state's congressional delegation, garnered dozens of media stories on the importance of renewing LWCF, and ran billboards in targeted congressional districts calling on Pennsylvania's congressional delegation to lead on LWCF.
“We need to protect our public lands for future generations, and the U.S. Senate took a big step toward doing so,” said Bellwoar. “Now it’s time for the U.S. House to act and permanently fund America’s beautiful parks and forests.”
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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.
For a list of projects funded by LWCF, go to https://www.lwcfcoalition.com/.