North Carolina Senator Richard Burr tonight will receive the Great Outdoors Champion Award for working to restore revenue from offshore oil and gas development to the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF), rather than allowing their continued diversion for other purposes.
LWCF is the nation’s premier conservation program, helping protect parks, wildlife refuges, forests, rivers, trails, battlefields, and urban parks for current and future generations. Over the last four decades, North Carolinians have invested approximately $209 million from LWCF to expand public access to its streams, conserve its coastlines, and preserve its Civil War battlefields. Altogether, LWCF has helped conserve more than 37,000 acres of forests, battlefields, and wildlife habitat, and supported more than 800 state and local parks in North Carolina
“Senator Burr has stood up for a simple but powerful idea: that a portion of revenues from offshore oil and gas development – not taxpayer dollars – should go to states like North Carolina to protect our outdoor heritage,” said Jay Leutze of the Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy. “Unfortunately, LWCF – and the North Carolina land and heritage it protects – is at risk. If Congress doesn’t act to reauthorize LWCF before 2015, it could completely disappear next year, ending the nation’s most effective program to keep lands open to hunting, fishing, and outdoor recreation.”
Senator Burr, Senator Max Baucus of Montana, and Senator Ron Wyden are the bipartisan sponsors of S.338, a bill that would fully fund LWCF. The legislation, titled the “Land and Water Conservation Authorization and Funding Act of 2013,” is supported by a broad coalition of conservation and recreation organizations and outdoor industry businesses and has 29 cosponsors in the U.S. Senate, including Senator Kay Hagan of North Carolina – who is also a strong supporter of LWCF.
By fully and permanently funding LWCF at its authorized level of $900 million per year, the legislation would foster federal, state, and local conservation investments that boost tourism, expand recreation spending, protect water quality, insulate communities from natural hazards, sustain agriculture and forestry on private lands, provide habitat for fish and wildlife, and improve the quality of life that draws businesses and workers to communities. LWCF is also essential to make public lands public by securing recreation access, particularly where opportunities for sportsmen and others to access public lands are currently limited or precluded.
If Senator Burr, Senator Hagan and others are successful in standing up for LWCF and passing S.338, it will have an immediate and lasting impact on the state. Here’s what’s on the line for North Carolina in the 2014 budget, alone.
The LWCF Coalition comprises conservation, recreation, business, and sportsmen’s groups working together to support the LWCF program in order to meet America’s conservation and recreation needs in the 21st century. For more information on LWCF and the places in each state that have been protected using LWCF funds, visit www.lwcfcoalition.org.
The Nature Conservancy is a leading conservation organization working around the world to protect ecologically important lands and waters for nature and people. The Conservancy and its more than 1 million members have protected nearly 120 million acres worldwide. Visit The Nature Conservancy on the Web at www.nature.org.
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