Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Conservation Funding Program Expiring Congress Pressed to Act by Sept. 30

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Conservation Funding Program Expiring Congress Pressed to Act by Sept. 30

Article excerpt

One of the biggest ideas of 1964 was a federal program that directs funds and matching grants that federal, state and local governments would use only for the acquisition of, or easements on, lands and waterways. Cost to taxpayers - zero.

Through the Land and Water Conservation Fund, earnings from offshore oil and gas leases are invested in open spaces where people hunt, fish, hike, bike, swim and play. One of America's longest-running and most successful conservation programs, it has provided nearly $6 billion in funding for more than 41,000 state and local parks, forests, wildlife refuges, recreation areas and voluntary conservation funding on private land.

Established by an act of Congress, it now will require an act of Congress to prevent the program from expiring Sept. 30. Last week, at Frick Environmental Center in Swissvale, the Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy and PennFuture, a nonprofit group supporting environmental issues, played host to a checklist of speakers ranging from Gov. Tom Wolf's deputy chief of staff to president of the Tri-County Trout Club, who urged Congress to support the program.

In a statement, Gov. Wolf said the passage of the Land and Water Conservation Fund was "a remarkable bipartisan measure."

"I write to request that you support H.R. 502 . and to make this a priority in the coming days. This bill provides for the permanent reauthorization of the LWCF, to ensure that the fund will continue to enable new recreational opportunities for future generations in Pennsylvania and across the nation."

Kelsey Krepps of PennFuture noted that in Pennsylvania the fund has provided more than $315 million to protect historical sites and battlefields, including the Flight 93 National Memorial, Gettysburg National Military Park, outdoor spaces such as Allegheny National Forest and the Appalachian National Scenic Trail, as well as community baseball fields, swimming pools and playgrounds. …

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