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Tick Tock: Fund to Conserve NC Land Approaches Expiration

North Carolina's outdoor recreation industry is largely reliant on public lands across the state that are protected from development. (NC Wetlands/flickr)
North Carolina's outdoor recreation industry is largely reliant on public lands across the state that are protected from development. (NC Wetlands/flickr)
September 10, 2018

RALEIGH, N.C. — There are 20 days left before the Land and Water Conservation Fund expires if it is not reauthorized by Congress. The fund has supported land acquisition for more than 50 years, and is funded with fees paid to the federal government for off shore and land drilling leases.

Since 1964, the LWCF has provided more than $246 million in matching grants and protected more than 38,000 acres for conservation. Liz Rutledge, wildlife specialist with the North Carolina Wildlife Federation, said protecting land is more important than ever.

"Land and Water Conservation Fund is extremely important to North Carolina and the Southeast, where human population growth and development continue to occur,” Rutledge said. “The public's ability to access wild areas becomes more limited."

In addition to ensuring outdoor recreation is protected, the conservation lands also are important to sportsmen and women in the state for hunting and fishing. North Carolina Republican Sen. Richard Burr tried to reauthorize the fund in July but was unsuccessful. He remains what some would call a champion of the fund and its reauthorization.

Rutledge said while conservation often is mistaken for a "blue" issue, protecting lands for future generations is a nonpartisan effort.

"Sen. Burr recognizes the value of the program, and so we applaud him for his persistence for reauthorization of the Land and Water Conservation Fund,” she said. “And we also ask that all North Carolina congressmen and women join him."

Because up until now the money generated by oil and gas leases is not dedicated to the LWCF, funding often is re-appropriated to the general fund, which conservation groups say has contributed to a backlog of projects totaling at least 223 in 45 states.

Stephanie Carson, Public News Service - NC