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House Subcommittee Takes Up Land & Water Conservation Fund Budget

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Acadia National Park has received funding from the federal Land and Water Conservation Fund. (OakleyOriginals/Creative Commons)
Acadia National Park has received funding from the federal Land and Water Conservation Fund. (OakleyOriginals/Creative Commons)
 By Laura Rosbrow-Telem, Public News Service - ME - Producer, Contact
May 15, 2019

WASHINGTON - President Donald Trump's budget proposal recommends gutting more than 95% of the Land and Water Conservation Fund. Nonetheless, a House Appropriations Subcommittee is deciding today how to spend the money.

For more than 50 years, the Land and Water Conservation Fund has received up to $900 million a year from federal offshore oil and gas leases. Congress then decides how much of it goes toward conservation and recreation projects in every state. Congress voted overwhelmingly in March to reauthorize the fund, and it's now going through the annual budget process.

Mike Murray, a Maine resident who serves on the executive council of the Coalition to Protect America's National Parks, explained what the president's cutbacks would do.

"No money would be authorized for acquisition or protection of federal land," he said, "and no money would be authorized for state grants to enable states and local communities to use this fund source for similar purposes."

While Trump's budget proposal is unusual, Congress often redirects Land and Water Conservation Fund dollars for other purposes. At today's House Appropriations Subcommittee meeting, committee members will suggest any changes to the budget for the Department of the Interior. Rep. Chellie Pingree, D-Maine, serves on the subcommittee and has been a supporter of LWCF.

Murray noted that, "here in Maine, we've been the beneficiary of $190 million in Land and Water Conservation Fund over the last five decades." He said the money has been used for Acadia National Park, Rachel Carson Wildlife Refuge and the Appalachian National Scenic Trail, among other public lands projects. In April, Susan Collins, R-Maine, and Angus King, I-Maine, joined their Senate colleagues in introducing a bill to ensure permanent funding of the LWCF at $900 million a year.

More information is online at appropriations.house.gov.

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