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Not Too Late: Fight Continues for Land and Water Conservation Fund

The Blue Ridge Parkway, which crosses through North Carolina, has received funding from the LWCF. Credit: youvebeenreviewed/morguefile.com
The Blue Ridge Parkway, which crosses through North Carolina, has received funding from the LWCF. Credit: youvebeenreviewed/morguefile.com
November 2, 2015

RALEIGH, N.C. - Advocates for the Land and Water Conservation Fund, which Congress allowed to expire last month, say the fight is not over to restore funding.

North Carolina has received $216 million over the last 50 years from the LWCF, and has funded projects at Cape Hatteras, on the Blue Ridge Parkway, in Pisgah National Forest and other places. Richard Mode, an affiliate representative for the North Carolina Wildlife Federation, says unless action is taken, popular recreation spots across the state are at risk.

"There is a concerted effort by a group of legislators who see the value of the Land and Water Conservation Fund and are trying to get it reauthorized with dedicated, full funding," says Mode.

In a recent weekly address, President Obama called on Congress to reauthorize the LWCF. Since taking office, the president has set aside more than 260 million acres of public lands and waters. Reauthorizing the fund has bipartisan support nationwide, including North Carolina Congressmen Patrick McHenry and Mark Meadows.

Mode says it's important to note the money that funds LCWF is not taxpayer dollars, but royalty revenue from offshore oil and gas drilling. Energy companies pay $900 million in royalties annually for drilling, and the fund receives a fraction of that.

"This is not tax money," he stresses. "We're selling a public-trust substance, oil, and to reinvest some of the profit that the government's receiving makes a lot of sense."

Mode says many projects the fund has supported are key outdoor recreation attractions in North Carolina.

The Outdoor Industry Association estimates that recreation contributes $7.5 billion annually to the state's economy, supports 95,000 jobs and generates $430 million in tax revenue.

Stephanie Carson, Public News Service - NC