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Congress: Unleash the Land and Water Conservation Fund

Kingston

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Kingston Point ParkKingston Point Park is one of my favorite spots to launch my kayak and experience the awe and power of the Hudson River. In 1979, Ulster County received $250,000 through the federal Land and Water Conservation Fund for development into a jewel along the Hudson, with hiking trails, a public beach, a dog park, and a baseball field. Adjusting for inflation, in today’s dollars, that would amount to nearly $900,000 of investment in Kingston and Ulster County. 

Places like these — and hundreds more across New York — were made possible because of funding from the LWCFund. Over the years New York has received more than $348.4 million from this fund. Often called America’s best conservation program, the LWCF was established by Congress in 1965 to create and preserve outdoor recreation spaces so that all Americans would be encouraged to develop a deep connection with nature. 

Since that time, the fund has built hiking and biking trails, improved fishing and hunting access, helped establish or maintain national, state and local parks and preserved historic sites in every county in America. It has done so without taxpayers spending a single dime, as LWCF is funded by a fee on offshore oil revenues. When lawmakers created the program, they reasoned that if oil companies can use a public resource for private gain, some of the profits should be used for conservation.

The fund is entitled to receive $900 million every year, spread across all 50 states, the District of Columbia and territories. Unfortunately, Congress has only allocated the full funding twice in the history of LWCF.  Too often, money is diverted to non-conservation projects. However, in recent encouraging news, the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources voted 13-7 to advance legislation to fully fund the program.  

As the Senate takes up the full funding legislation, we urge them to fully fund LWCF at $900 million. We also urge lawmakers to make full funding of LWCF permanent so we don’t short-change this vital program in the future. We thank Senators Schumer and Gillibrand along with many members of the New York delegation in the House of Representatives who have signed on as co-sponsors of the full-funding bill and commend Representative Lowey’s support in advocating that this vital funding for our environment and open space continues for generations to come.

Despite federal assaults on the environment, there is one program that maintains overwhelming bipartisan public support. The Land and Water Conservation Fund is good for families, it’s good for wildlife, it’s good for our beautiful outdoor spaces and it’s a boon for the economy.  Outdoor recreation contributes nearly $42 billion annually in consumer spending and supports over 300,000 jobs. 

Kingston Point Park is just one of many special places across New York that have received funding from the Land and Water Conservation Fund, connecting New Yorkers to their waterfronts and wild places. I urge New York’s congressional delegation in Washington to fully fund the Land and Water Conservation Fund this year – and then make that funding permanent.

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Keep the Hudson River flowing!
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