Congress made a tragic mistake by allowing our nation’s most successful conservation programs to expire. For 54 years, the Land and Water Conservation Fund has quietly transformed local communities by funding important outdoor recreation projects in nearly every county across America. Here in Utah, the Land and Water Conservation Fund has helped fund and protect places such as Canyonlands National Park, Golden Spike National Historic Site and Bear Lake State Park. Losing this program will have negative effects across our state, from playgrounds to national parks.
Utah’s own Sen. Orrin Hatch and Rep. Rob Bishop have been working hard to save this important program, but these efforts have sadly fallen short in a Congress dominated by gridlock. As Hatch prepares for retirement after a long and storied career in the senate, Utahns need his leadership to help save this important and successful program.
Established by Congress in 1964, the Land and Water Conservation Fund provides funding to increase outdoor recreation opportunities and access to public lands, improve local parks, promote healthy forests and protect critical wildlife habitat. These projects do not burden American taxpayers at all, since funds are derived from offshore oil and gas royalties. Most Americans are unaware that they have benefited from the Land and Water Conservation Fund, which has funded everything from local parks, ballfields and playgrounds to iconic places like Grand Canyon National Park. The Land and Water Conservation Fund has such a far-reaching impact and strong bipartisan support it’s tough to express just how vital the program is to our state and local communities.
A program with such far reach deserves to continue not just for its value to conservation, recreation and wildlife, but also for its economic impact. Over the past few decades, the outdoor recreation industry has quietly become an enormous American economic engine, contributing $887 billion to our economy in 2017 alone. In Utah, this translates into $12.3 billion in consumer spending and over 110,000 jobs. The outdoor industry is a huge economic driver and engine for our nation and state, and the Land and Water Conservation Fund is critical fuel for that engine.7 comments on this story
It is not too late to save the Land and Water Conservation Fund, but we must act swiftly by the end of the year to ensure this program continues. Hatch and Bishop will be key in helping to save the Land and Water Conservation Fund and ensure common sense prevails in the halls of Congress. Republicans and Democrats across the country must put partisanship aside and pass legislation to permanently reauthorize and fully fund the Land and Water Conservation Fund before Congress adjourns for the year.
To save this program, Utahns need to pick up the phone and call their members of Congress and ask them to actively work to save the Land and Water Conservation Fund now. Let’s move past the partisan gridlock and work together to provide our nation with a breath of fresh air by saving this wildly popular and successful conservation program.