June 25, 2019
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, in a hearing of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Hearing, U.S. Senator Angus King (I-Maine) advocated to permanently fund the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) each year, without having to continually go through the appropriations process. In March, the Senate passed legislation backed by Senator King that permanently reauthorizes the LWCF program.
“It seems to me there are two separate conversations, two separate issues at stake – one is funding, and [two is] what to do with the funding,” said Senator King in the hearing. “Those are the two issues, and the problem as I see it, is right now we have a proposal [without] funding, and yet we’re talking about the importance of land conservation…We just reauthorized permanently the Land and Water Conservation Fund, but if we don’t fund it, it doesn’t mean anything. I guess the question before us is: we ought to fund it to the authorized level.
Sen. King continued, “This money… comes from the land, and it was designed in 1965 to go back to the land. I mean that’s exactly what this purpose was, and to the extent we’re siphoning off these funds for other entirely different purposes, that’s really not appropriate.”
As the Ranking Member of the Senate Subcommittee on National Parks, Senator King is known within Congress as a champion of efforts to preserve, protect, and promote America’s national parks and public lands. He is a lead sponsor of the Restore Our Parks Act, bipartisan legislation which would address the nearly $12 billion maintenance backlog without affecting LWCF. Senator King has long advocated in favor of permanent reauthorization of the Land and Water Conservation Fund, which was signed into law as part of the public lands package in early March.
The witness panel in today’s hearing included Susan Combs, Assistant Secretary for Policy, Management and Budget, U.S. Department of the Interior; Chris French, Acting Deputy Chief, U.S. Forest Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture; Lauren Imgrund, President, National Association of State Outdoor Recreation Liaison Officers; Collin O’Mara, President and CEO, National Wildlife Federation; and Brian Yablonski, Executive Director, Property and Environment Research Center.