WA Cities "Fish" for Land and Water Conservation Dollars
EDMONDS, Wash. - A coalition of hunting and fishing organizations says the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) could be doing a lot more for local economies if Congress would stop raiding the money.
In a new report, 17 sportsman's groups cite examples of recreation and conservation projects in a dozen states where wildlife and people are benefiting from LWCF funding.
Whit Fosburgh, who heads the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership, said the fund turns 50 this week and the report asks Congress to take it more seriously.
"We do have an opportunity here," he said, "really recommitting to this and recommitting to not only the money that goes into it, but also what it stands for - and that is getting Americans outdoors and enjoying fish, wildlife, open spaces. That's been such an important part of this country."
Land and Water Conservation Fund dollars are royalties paid by oil and gas companies to help offset the damage from offshore drilling by preserving other outdoor resources - from local parks and sports fields to better access for fishing and hunting spots. However, LWCF has received full funding only once since 1978.
In Washington, the Edmonds Fishing Pier is one project on hold. A favorite spot for anglers, it's almost 40 years old and needs major renovation to keep it safe for more than 100,000 visitors a year. Carrie Hite, director of Parks, Recreation and Cultural Services for the City of Edmonds, said they've been looking elsewhere for money since so many projects await LWCF dollars - and this one has been passed over before.
"The fishing pier has been prioritized since 2008 and we haven't been able to put the $1.5 million package together yet," she said. "It's getting to be a bit more competitive, and the Land and Water Conservation Fund is probably the lowest-funded fund that we have to go after."
With LWCF up for re-authorization next year, the report says sportsmen are a $90 billion-a-year economic powerhouse, and urges them to speak up about it.
The report is online at trcp.org.