Ac­tion needed to re­store con­ser­va­tion fund

Dayton Daily News - - IDEAS & VOICES - By Krista Ma­gaw Krista Ma­gaw is ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of the Te­cum­seh Land Trust, based in Yel­low Springs.

We are on the brink of los­ing — per­haps for­ever — one of our sound­est fed­eral con­ser­va­tion pro­grams, the Land and Wa­ter Con­ser­va­tion Fund.

This fund was es­tab­lished by Congress in 1964 to ful­fill a bi­par­ti­san com­mit­ment to safe­guard our nat­u­ral ar­eas, wa­ter re­sources and cul­tural her­itage, and to pro­vide recre­ation op­por­tu­ni­ties to all Amer­i­cans. Us­ing zero tax­payer dol­lars, the fund in­vests earn­ings from off­shore oil and gas leas­ing to help strengthen com­mu­ni­ties, pre­serve our his­tory and pro­tect our na­tional en­dow­ment of lands and waters.

The LWCF ex­pired on Sept. 30 be­cause of in­ac­tion by Congress. Sadly, that in­ac­tion jeop­ar­dizes pub­lic ac­cess to and en­joy­ment of green spa­ces across the na­tion for fu­ture gen­er­a­tions. Reau­tho­riz­ing LWCF is ab­so­lutely a win-win. Mov­ing earn­ings from drilling which has the po­ten­tial to harm the en­vi­ron­ment to in­vest­ing in ways to pro­tect the en­vi­ron­ment just makes sense. The LWCF makes it pos­si­ble for com­mu­ni­ties across the na­tion to help off­set the im­pacts of re­source ex­trac­tion by pro­tect­ing land and wa­ter re­sources at home.

The LWCF has cre­ated out­door recre­ation op­por­tu­ni­ties in ev­ery state and vir­tu­ally ev­ery county across the coun­try, in­clud­ing all 88 of Ohio’s coun­ties. When it comes to the lo­cal im­pact of the ex­pi­ra­tion of LWCF, Ohio has re­ceived ap­prox­i­mately $333 mil­lion in LWCF fund­ing over the past five decades, pro­tect­ing places such as the Cuya­hoga Val­ley Na­tional Park, the Ot­tawa Na­tional Wildlife Refuge, the Wayne Na­tional For­est and the James Garfield Na­tional His­toric Site.

Out­door recre­ation is cru­cial to Ohio’s econ­omy — gen­er­at­ing $24.3 bil­lion in con­sumer spend­ing, 215,000 jobs which gen­er­ate $7 bil­lion in wages and salaries, and pro­duc­ing $1.5 bil­lion an­nu­ally in state and lo­cal tax rev­enue. Ad­di­tion­ally, ev­ery year 5 mil­lion peo­ple hunt, fish, or en­joy wildlife-watch­ing in Ohio, con­tribut­ing $3.2 bil­lion in wildlife recre­ation spend­ing to the state econ­omy. Some of the places where this money is be­ing spent are only open to the pub­lic and avail­able due to the LWCF.

The Amer­i­can pop­u­la­tion in 2050 is ex­pected to be twice that of 1964, when the LWCF was cre­ated. Just imag­ine the im­pacts on our nat­u­ral re­sources cre­ated by this pop­u­la­tion pres­sure. Our na­tion’s crit­i­cal land­scapes can never be re­placed when lost, and con­tin­ued LWCF fund­ing helps to en­sure that they will be present for gen­er­a­tions to come. In my dayto-day work at the Te­cum­seh Land Trust, I see the need to pro­tect more land and wa­ter here in south­west Ohio. The pace of preser­va­tion isn’t keep­ing up with the pace of de­vel­op­ment. We ab­so­lutely need ev­ery tool in the tool­box to pro­tect what we still have.

And across the county, much more must be done to meet cur­rent and fu­ture needs for our green spa­ces. We need Congress to step up and reau­tho­rize the Land and Wa­ter Con­ser­va­tion Fund so we can con­tinue to pro­tect land and wa­ter for fu­ture gen­er­a­tions. Please call your leg­is­la­tors to­day and ask them to per­ma­nently reau­tho­rize this widely sup­ported fund, and man­date con­tin­ued fund­ing.

Ev­ery day this im­por­tant fund is dor­mant, we are los­ing a chance to pre­serve and cre­ate ac­cess to im­por­tant nat­u­ral and recre­ational re­sources, the in­fra­struc­ture needed to make and keep Ohio an ideal place to live, work and play.

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