Save America’s Conservation Programs

Hawks_Nest_Hiking_Trail_by_ForestWander

Target: House Natural Resources Committee Chairman Rob Bishop

Goal: Don’t cut funding for important conservation programs.

A critical program for conserving and maintaining natural landscapes has recently come under attack from lawmakers in Washington. House Natural Resources Committee Chairman, Rob Bishop, has introduced a bill entitled the Protecting America’s Recreation and Conservation (PARC) Act, which would restructure existing funding programs and remove money from programs dedicated to conservation, shuffling it to the oil and gas industry. This bill must be struck down if Congress truly wants to preserve America’s forests and natural spaces.

The Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) has long been an essential source of money for programs related to maintaining America’s natural landscapes. The Fund has enjoyed constant bipartisan support over the past several years, but Chairman Bishop’s proposal represents a dangerous re-configuring of the Fund. In Chairman Bishop’s proposed plan, just 3.5% of LWCF funds would actually be used for land and water conservation. Worse still, the PARC Act  does not simply prevent money from entering the Fund; it takes existing funding from conservation efforts and funnels it to the oil and gas industry. In the current proposal, 35% of LWCF funding would be be diverted into these industries.

In testimony to the Committee, American Hiking Society Vice President for Government Relations Peter Olsen observed, “Congress has a responsibility to complete the trails that it authorized and which hundreds of thousands of volunteers all across the country have poured their sweat and hard-earned money into.” America is home to acres upon acres of natural landscapes, and these beautiful areas are enjoyed by millions of recreational outdoor enthusiasts annually, from hikers to bikers to equestrians. To abandon these trails and forests would be an egregious oversight.

The LWCF as it stands now is not a perfect system, and adjustments and modifications are welcome. The PARC act, however, is not the answer. Diverting funds away from conservation efforts into the hands of self-sufficient industries represents a serious risk to the preservation of America’s natural landscapes. Chairman Bishop and the rest of Congress must reauthorize LWCF as part of the Omnibus 2016 Appropriations Bill, or else America’s hiking trails will face a severe shortage of funds in the coming years.

PETITION LETTER:

Dear Chairman Bishop,

The Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) has long been an essential source of money for programs related to maintaining America’s natural landscapes, and has enjoyed constant bipartisan support. Your proposed overhaul represents a serious threat to this fund, as diverting funds away from conservation efforts into the hands of self-sufficient industries will make the preservation of America’s natural landscapes a much more daunting task.

Volunteers around the country work countless hours to preserve and maintain trails and forests, and the government, including your committee, has an obligation to respect this commitment. As chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee, you have been given the responsibility of helping to lead the effort to protect our nation’s trails and forests. Proposing legislation that takes money away from conservation efforts runs counter to the ideals that you are meant to uphold, and I urge you to recognize your duty and dismiss your suggested bill. Congress must reauthorize the LWCF as part of the upcoming budget bill in order to reaffirm its commitment to our country’s natural beauty.

Sincerely,

[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: ForestWander

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