Financing the Land and Water Conservation Fund
In 1964, Congress created the Land and Water Conservation Fund to provide funding for parks, forest and wildlife areas. At the time, Congress had a straight-forward idea: the government would use a portion of offshore oil and gas lease revenue to protect and develop our natural resources. The idea garnered significant bipartisan support and passed the Senate by a vote of 92-1. The fund was a great idea in the 1960s when people had significant concerns about public health, environmental issues and an expanding need for recreational space. It remains a great idea today and deserves consistent and sufficient funding.
Pennsylvania has benefited from the Land and Water Conservation Fund in countless ways. For example, in the past 45 years, the fund has helped us acquire and maintain Gettysburg National Military Park, Alleghany National Forest, the Johnstown Flood National Memorial, the Flight 93 National Memorial, the Cherry Valley and the John Heinz Tinicum National Wildlife Refuges, and so many other important sites. We, in the state, visit these locations on family vacations and on weekend day trips and people from other states come to tour these sites.
The Land and Water Conservation Fund has allowed us to protect pieces of our state’s landscape and to preserve historic sites, places that help to define Pennsylvania. Without the fund, these nationally-known sites might not exist. It is essential that Congress provide consistent and sufficient funding so that we as a Nation are able to conserve parts of our unique and beautiful landscape. That is why I am cosponsor of S. 2747, a bill which would make permanent the authorization for the Land and Water Conservation Fund.
In the past 45 years, the Land and Water Conservation Fund has financed more than 37,000 projects. These projects established new outdoor locations for all people to enjoy. There are many reasons why it is important we provide locations and opportunities for people to visit the great outdoors, including economic reasons. For example, each year, general outdoor recreation contributes $730 billion to the economy and supports 6.5 million jobs. Last year more than 280 million people visited a national park, putting $13 billion into local economies and creating 250,000 private sector jobs. By consistently financing the Land and Water Conservation Fund, we can promote jobs, local spending and outdoor enjoyment.