Letter to the Editor | Call Congress to voice support

A vital piece of federal legislation, the permanent reauthorization of the Land and Water Conservation Fund, awaits final Congressional approval before legislators adjourn in December. It would authorize the full, permanent, dedicated funding of America’s most important conservation and recreation program.

Since funding for the LWCF expired Sept. 30, America has been losing roughly $2.5 million every day for conservation –– that’s over $117 million so far and counting. This money, from taxes on off-shore drilling, is vital for protecting significant conservation and cultural heritage sites.

LWCF money was used to buy Riverfront Park and other riverfront land in Peoria in the 1980s.

The LWCF has invested in projects in every state and nearly every county in our country. It is absolutely essential to ensuring Americans can access the outdoors and for supporting our growing outdoor recreation economy.

Yet despite its undisputed success and overwhelming support, Congress has not upheld the promise of LWCF. More than half of its funding continues to be diverted to other purposes (over $22 billion in the past 50 years), and its authorization is subject to continued uncertainty. This is not honest budgeting and it is not good policy, advocates say.

The Land and Water Conservation Fund Coalition website at https://www.lwcfcoalition.com/ says it best: “It is because of Teddy Roosevelt’s vision to start protecting our recreational opportunities, Dwight D. Eisenhower’s instinct for conservation action, John F. Kennedy’s commitment to the outdoors, and Lyndon B. Johnson’s creation of LWCF that we as Americans now have the most extensive network of open spaces in the world to hunt, fish, hike, swim, and play.”

Congress should permanently reauthorize LWCF and provide full dedicated funding before the end of this session. It’s so far been a bipartisan measure, and has passed out of the requisite committees. This critical program must not remain in limbo.

Be sure to call your members of Congress and urge them to support this reauthorization.

Elaine Hopkins, Peoria

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