September 19, 2014 - When it comes to remembering birthdays of friends and
families, we’ve all had that sinking feeling when an important date has slipped
by and we forgot to send a note or make a call. Well this week, there is a
birthday to celebrate and the good news, it’s not too late to make a call.
So what are we celebrating? We are marking 50 years of one of the country’s most important and
successful environmental programs: The Land and Water Conservation Fund.
The Land and Water Conservation Fund Act was signed into law
in September, 1964. This historic legislation established a dedicated and
permanent means for the conservation and protection of America’s irreplaceable
natural, historic, cultural and outdoor landmarks. LWCF is the only federal
program dedicated to the continued conservation of our national parks, forests,
wildlife refuges, wilderness, civil war battlefields, as well as creating and
developing state and local parks. It is rightly characterized as America’s most
important conservation program.
LWCF does not use any taxpayer dollars – it is funded using
a small portion of revenues from offshore oil and gas royalty payments. Outdoor
recreation, conservation and historic preservation activities support 9.4
million jobs and contribute more than a trillion dollars annually to the U.S.
We here in the Hudson Valley have plenty of reasons to celebrate
50 years of the LWCF. The LWCF is responsible for protecting some of our most
important natural, recreational and cultural assets, including the birthplace
of the Appalachian Trail in Bear Mountain State Park, Sterling State Park and
the Franklin D. Roosevelt National Historic Site in Hyde Park. Throughout its
50 year history, the LWCF has been our nation’s most effective and far-reaching
tool in conserving significant landscapes, protecting irreplaceable watersheds
and safeguarding fragile ecosystems and habitats.
And in protecting this wide-ranging assortment of natural
resources, the LWCF has also proven to be an effective local economic driver. Funding
from LWCF plays a crucial role in New York, supporting the state’s billion
dollar outdoor recreation economy. Outdoor recreation, much of it on
LWCF-protected lands, supports 130,000 jobs across the state, generates nearly
$800 million in annual state tax revenue and produces $11.3 billion in retail
sales and services.
As we look back at all that has been accomplished through
the Land and Water Conservation Fund over the past fifty years, there is
something we can all do to celebrate this highly effective and impactful
program. Make a birthday call – but this time make it a call of thanks to our
congressional representatives. And while you’re at it make the case for another
50 years of conservation, through the renewal of the Land and Water Conservation
Fund. And let’s keep the gifts that support a clean and healthy environment
Happy Birthday Land and Water Conservation Fund!
Stream and listen to Erik on the Your Environment podcast.