Newscasts

PNS Daily Newscast - April 20, 2018 


The DOJ delivers the Comey memos to Congress. Also on our rundown: More evidence that rent prices are out of reach in many markets; Wisconsin counties brace for sulfide mining; and the Earth Day focus this weekend in North Dakota is on recycling.

Daily Newscasts

Dueling Proposals for Keeping LWCF Alive

Land and Water Conservation Fund dollars were part of creating the Gilchrist State Forest north of Klamath Falls. Credit: Oregon Department of Forestry/Flickr
Land and Water Conservation Fund dollars were part of creating the Gilchrist State Forest north of Klamath Falls. Credit: Oregon Department of Forestry/Flickr
November 23, 2015

PORTLAND, Ore. - The futures of some land conservation and outdoor recreation projects in Oregon hang in the balance as Congress debates reauthorizing the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF). The program has been around for 50 years and, since it expired at the end of September, there are proposals to revive it but perhaps with significant cutbacks.

States and communities use LWCF dollars for parks and recreational improvements. But Kelley Beamer, executive director of the Coalition of Oregon Land Trusts, says it's all on hold without a steady source of funding.

"It allows those critical projects to move forward, and there are so many projects on the line that the public doesn't even know about, that could really make a difference for our state," says Beamer. "And if this fund dries up and goes away, I think it's going to be one of those things that 'you don't know what you've got until it's gone.'"

House Bill 1814, backed by almost 200 representatives from both parties, would reauthorize and fully fund the LWCF. But Rep. Rob Bishop (R-Utah) chairs the committee where the bill sits, and he has his own proposal, still in draft form, that would restrict the funding and reorganize the program.

There are also two U.S. Senate bills, S 338 and S 890, to reauthorize and fully fund the LWCF.

Alan Rowsome, senior director of government relations for lands at The Wilderness Society, says the fund has had broad bipartisan support for decades.

"In an incredibly polarized world where Congress isn't doing much, you see this incredible bipartisan cooperation among those members, and it shows you this is a special issue," says Rowsome. "This is an issue not like many others, and one that shouldn't be caught up in the politics."

The Land and Water Conservation Fund gets its money from offshore oil and gas royalties. Despite its popularity, it has rarely received full funding from Congress. Nonetheless, it has brought millions of dollars to Oregon over the years for parks, trails, sportsman's access, wildlife refuges and more.

Chris Thomas, Public News Service - OR