11.18.15

Gardner Presses for the Reauthorization of the Land and Water Conservation Fund

Washington, DC – Senator Cory Gardner (R-CO), a member of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, announced today he has sent a letter, along with Senator Michael Bennet (D-CO) and Senator Richard Burr (R-NC), urging Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) to permanently reauthorize the Land and Water Conservation Fund (“LWCF”), which expired at the end of September.

The LWCF provides funding for conservation and helps ensure public access to the outdoors. Senator Gardner voted to make the LWCF’s authorization permanent in January, but that vote fell one vote shy of passage.  The Senator also voted to make LWCF authorization permanent in the bipartisan energy bill that passed through the Energy and Natural Resources Committee by a vote of 18-4.

The letter reads, in full:

Dear Majority Leader McConnell and Minority Leader Reid:

We write to request that you permanently re-authorize the Land and Water Conservation Fund (“LWCF”) and provide it with full mandatory funding in one of the bills that Congress must pass before the end of the session.  As you know, this critical initiative has been expired since the end of September.   

The LWCF is one of the country’s best conservation programs, preserving public lands in rural and urban areas.  For the last 50 years, it has protected lands, historic sites, national parks, wilderness areas, and urban parks in every state.  LWCF has supported more than 41,000 state and local projects.  It is critical to protecting natural resource lands and working forests, providing outdoor recreation opportunities and hunting and fishing access, ensuring wildlife habitat, creating urban parks, and protecting our cultural heritage.  Continued investments in this program help our nation’s outdoor recreation, conservation, and preservation economy, which supports millions of American jobs and contributes billions of dollars annually to the economy.

The LWCF is funded with offshore oil royalties and was designed not to use taxpayer dollars.  However, since the creation of LWCF in 1965, more than $18 billion has been taken from the LWCF trust fund and diverted from its original conservation purpose.  Because authorization for the LWCF expired on September 30th, offshore oil royalties are no longer being directed into the fund and there is no longer any guarantee that Congress will provide it the necessary funds.

For the economy, sportsmen, veterans, wildlife, and our kids and grandkids, we must permanently reauthorize LWCF -- America’s must successful conservation program.  We also strongly request that you include mandatory full funding in any must-pass year end legislation. We look forward to working with you to resolve this pressing issue.

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Cory Gardner is a member of the U.S. Senate serving Colorado. He sits on the Energy & Natural Resources Committee, the Foreign Relations Committee, the Commerce, Science, & Transportation Committee, and the Small Business & Entrepreneurship Committee, and is the Chairman of the Subcommittee on East Asia, the Pacific, and International Cybersecurity Policy.