Two Democratic members of Washington’s congressional delegation on Thursday delivered an appeal to the Republican-run Congress: Don’t kill the Land and Water Conservation Fund.
The LWCF, established 50 years ago, uses a portion of revenues from the federal government’s offshore oil and gas leases to pay for conservation and recreation programs, often in matching grands with the state. It has invested $637 million in Washington, saving old-growth forests in Southwest Washington, establishing wildlife refuges and buying up mine holdings in our national parks.
Its latest contributions are three grants for North Creek Forest near Bothell, where Sen. Patty Murray and Rep. Suzan DelBene paid a visit Thursday.
“We must not risk defunding environmental conservation programs, which is why Congress should reauthorize the Land and Water Conservation Fund to preserve our natural resources,” said DelBene, whose district includes much of the North Cascades National Park, Glacier Peak Wilderness Area and the Skagit Eagle Sanctuary.
The Senate appears likely to reauthorize the LWCF. The problem is with ultra conservative elements in the House Republican Caucus.
The state’s four Republican House members will have a voice in the LWCF’s fate. Rep. Dave Reichert, R-Wash., has defended the Fund, supplying key support when it survived on a 216-212 House vote. The other Republican House member from Western Washington, Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler, voted to eliminate the fund despite millions spent on projects in her Southwest Washington district.
Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Wash., is a member of the House Republican Leadership, but has the Washington delegation’s lowest pro-environment score of the League of Conservation Voters’ list of House votes. She has consistently voted to weaken federal clean air and clean water programs.
The LWCF contains “a set of unique tools that empower local communities to increase public access to open space, conserve and restore forests, and protect wilderness areas,” Murray said. “I consider one of the most important things a Senator can do is to help preserve our nation’s natural rtreasures for generations to come.”