Fitzpatrick calls for full funding of Land and Water Conservation Fund

U.S. Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA) and more than 100 lawmakers urged the leaders of both chambers of Congress to provide full and permanent funding for the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) in the next COVID-19 economic relief legislation.

“Since its establishment, the LWCF has made numerous contributions to our economy, creating jobs in local communities and promoting recreational activity,” Rep. Fitzpatrick said. “Providing robust funding for the LWCF would help relieve the backlog of maintenance projects at our national parks and other public lands, allowing millions of Americans to continue to enjoy their beauty.”

Additionally, Rep. Fitzpatrick and his bipartisan group of colleagues requested a relief package include dedicated mandatory funding to address the maintenance backlog on public lands, according to a May 11 letter they sent to leadership in the U.S. House and Senate. The letter was also led by U.S. Rep. Joe Neguse (D-CO).

“Deferred maintenance at national parks and public lands throughout the country is a mounting problem that we can no longer afford to ignore,” the lawmakers wrote. “Decades of underfunding and neglect have led to overgrown trails, crumbling roads and dilapidated buildings, leading to $11.9 billion of deferred maintenance projects in our national parks alone.”

Rep. Fitzpatrick and his colleagues noted that together, these provisions will create jobs, expand access to recreation, and support a key economic sector devastated by the ongoing impacts of the pandemic, according to their letter.

“Beyond these clear stimulus impacts, the inclusion of these important policy priorities will also help to reinvest in natural infrastructure that decreases demands on federal, state and local government budgets already facing staggering coronavirus-related challenges,” they wrote. “Finally, strong investments in protecting and maintaining our nation’s public lands will provide greater, more equitable access to the outdoors for Americans coping with this national trauma.”

The Wilderness Society, the Outdoor Recreation Roundtable, and the Continental Divide Trail Coalition support the legislators’ efforts.