Since its creation in 1965 the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) has invested $8.2 billion in projects in every U.S. county, spanning the range of wildlife reserves to public pools. These funds do not come from taxpayer money, they are alloted as a portion of federal offshore oil and gas drilling fees. Yet despite over 80% bipartisan voter support, the LWCF’s conservation efforts have only been partially funded for finite periods of time, meaning it has never received its full allocated $900 million from Congress. September 30th, 2018 marks a critical deadline – its expiration. In light of this, representatives from the League of Conservation Voters of twenty-nine states, joined by donors, board members, and youth leaders, took to Capitol Hill on June 6th to lobby Congress for the fund’s unabridged funding and indefinite reauthorization.
NYLCV Senior Vice President Josh Klainberg along with interns Molly Radwell and Raine Sroge Johnson, Capital Region Board Member Dr. Lewis Morrison, and National LCV leads Miles Donovan and Jameka Hodnett took eleven meetings the following congressional offices: U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand and U.S. House Members Crowley, Donovan, Faso, Lowey, Sean Patrick Maloney, Stefanik, Suozzi, Tonko, Velazquez, and Zeldin. Ten of the eleven have already co-sponsored the bill, H.R.502, and the group expressed their appreciation and gratitude. At each meeting, the legislators were presented with a complete list of projects the LCWF has sponsored in their districts with the intention of collaborating on an event at a cherished LWCF funded project and to serve as a reminder of the essential role the conservation program plays.
Throughout the past 50 years, upwards of $326 million has been given to New York to preserve forests, parks, and outdoor recreational facilities across the state, yielding benefits for all regions, from the Coney Island Boardwalk in Brooklyn to the Chenango River Promenade in Binghamton. The LWCF has been vital to building spaces for communities, safeguarding access to clean air, water, and workable land, and aiding hunting, fishing and wildlife watching, ultimately supporting an outdoor industry that supplies $41.8 billion annually to the New York economy. The New York Congressional delegation acknowledged the necessity of the fund, hopefully looking to see its finances secured permanently for the future.