Sometimes Good News Comes in Big Packages!
It feels like a long time since we’ve had good news for the Land and Water Conservation Fund(LWCF)… but it’s worth a celebration nonetheless! In mid-February, the U.S. Senate passed the largest public lands package in a decade, driven largely by a huge bipartisan effort to permanently reauthorize the LWCF. And this week, a House vote on that package is imminent!
At a time in our history when we watch deep political divisions dominate the conversation, this vote showed overwhelming bipartisan support of 92-8! While we still need to see this package get through the U.S. House, that seems like pretty good momentum going forward. Both South Carolina Senators Lindsey Graham and Tim Scott voted in favor of the package.
Check out this article in the Post and Courier about the public lands package: https://www.postandcourier.com/news/land-and-water-fund-revived-critical-for-sc-conservation-and/article_6cd33f48-3081-11e9-8650-97a3b1b04711.html
How Much Funding Did We Lose?
While we work to urge Congress to get this package through the House, the amount of funding lost continues to climb. As of President’s Day 2019, nearly $350,000,000 was lost to the 5-month lapse in the program.
LWCF is important for our communities, and it may be more important than you realize. As the nation’s most successful conservation program, LWCF has helped create National and State Parks, preserve delicate, culturally important historic sites and battlefields, and create wildlife refuges with access to hunting and fishing that preserve our distinctly Palmetto State way of life. But it also helps fund the parks down the street from you; tennis courts, playgrounds, walking trails, green spaces, and skateparks.
LWCF has projects in every single SC county, helping create and preserve an invaluable framework for out outdoor recreation industry. Remember when we said the outdoors activities were part of a distinctly Palmetto State way of life? Well, our outdoor recreation industry employs over 150,000 South Carolinians and adds over $16 billion to our state’s economy each year. All without costing taxpayers a dime!
The funds are pulled from royalties paid by oil and resource extraction companies for using the natural resources of the United States. The program is almost an offset; a way for companies to give back to the people for making a profit off of the natural resources beneath our feet.
Let’s Get a Win for South Carolina!
After a resounding win in the Senate we need a resounding win for the Public Lands Package and the Land and Water Conservation Fund in the House. We’re counting our votes and we want to be South Carolina proud. The Public Lands Package permanently reauthorize the Land and Water Conservation Fund.