Protecting America’s vast public lands for the benefit of this and future generations is a key priority for LCV. Recently, our public lands have been under siege as timber, mining, and oil companies and their allies in Congress have pushed to industrialize more and more of America’s natural heritage and stop conservation efforts. The 112th Congress (2011-12), which brought the Tea Party to Washington, was the first since 1966 not to protect a single new acre of public land as a national park or wilderness area, and the 113th Congress did not do much better. The Republican House Leadership’s philosophical opposition to protecting new public lands contrasts with the dozens of bipartisan, locally-supported land-protection bills languishing in the House of Representatives. Communities across the country have instead looked to President Obama for executive action to permanently protect special places. The president is responding to those calls and has used his conservation authority under the Antiquities Act to protect places that showcase America’s natural, cultural, and historic resources, including New Mexico’s Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument, California’s Cesar Chavez National Monument, and Washington’s San Juan Islands National Monument.
LCV will keep fighting on behalf of local communities who want to boost their economy and quality of life by preserving remarkable landscapes and historic places in their backyard.
A key federal program to protect public lands, urban parks, working forests, and battlefields is the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF). Since 1965, LWCF has been using federal revenues from the depletion of one natural resource—offshore oil and gas—to support the conservation of another valuable resource—our lands and waterways. LWCF funding has supported outdoor recreation projects in all 50 states, ranging from expansions of iconic national parks like the Grand Canyon to building local parks, trails, and playgrounds in our own backyards. Yet despite bipartisan support for LWCF, nearly every year Congress diverts much of the $900 million authorized for this program to things other than conserving natural open spaces and public lands. Additionally, LWCF is facing a critical deadline in 2015 when its authorization expires, putting in jeopardy this popular and longstanding program. LCV supports the growing bipartisan effort to reauthorize LWCF with full and permanent funding before it expires in 2015.