With Congress allowing the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) to lapse for the first time in over a half century, U.S. Senator Tom Udall yesterday called on Congress to immediately pass a 60-day extension and continue working to permanently authorize and fully fund the nation’s premier conservation program. Udall’s father, former Interior Secretary Stewart Udall, helped secure passage of the LWCF in 1965 and the program has since helped boost the economy in local communities and supported outdoor recreation throughout the nation. Earlier in the day, Udall spoke passionately from the Senate floor about the impact the LWCF has had in New Mexico. He released the following statement:
“The LWCF is based on a simple idea — use revenue from developing one natural resource for preserving public lands and waters for all to enjoy. In its 50 years, the LWCF has created urban parks like Valle de Oro and Petroglyph National Monument and conserved wild backcountry across New Mexico. These parks and open spaces support countless jobs and improve our quality of life. And its economic impact is impressive — for every $1 invested, we see a return of $4 to local communities.
“There’s no question that the LWCF has become one of our nation’s most successful conservation programs and enjoys broad bipartisan support — yet Congress is about to let it expire. That doesn’t make any sense, and we don’t have to let it happen. I urge the Senate to act on a measure to extend the LWCF that will give us time to work on a permanent solution as part of any budget agreement later this year. But no matter what happens with the extension, I’ve fought for years to permanently authorize and fully fund the LWCF, and I will continue working toward a solution that will allow the LWCF to continue and live up to its full potential.”
The LWCF has helped create and protect urban parks and open spaces that enhance recreation and outdoor opportunities in urban and rural communities alike. It’s funded through revenues from federal oil and gas leases on the Outer Continental Shelf and does not use taxpayer dollars. The program also supports America’s outdoor recreation, conservation and preservation economies, which contribute more than $1 trillion to the nation’s economy each year and support 9.4 million American jobs. More than $261 million has been spent in New Mexico since 1965 to protect natural resources and provide recreational opportunities, including more than $41 million for state and local grants.