Tuesday, October 6, 2015

The far-right and the demise of the Land and Water Conservation Fund

On September 30, the Land and Water Conservation Fund was permitted to sunset, leaving to question whether one of the most important laws providing federal funds for popular urban parks projects will ever return.  Here is an excerpt from a Colorado newspaper:

But on Sept. 30, the 50-year-old fund — widely viewed as one of the nation’s most popular and most successful land conservation programs — was allowed to expire completely.

Despite broad bipartisan support and despite a deadline that was no surprise to anyone, Congress failed to take action to re-authorize it. That means that offshore oil and gas producers will no longer be paying into the chest that funds the program — and now that the funding connection has been broken, re-instating it will be very difficult, especially given the tone of this Congress. Instead, lawmakers will be dickering over how to divvy up former LWCF appropriations, which will now be going into the general treasury.

The expiration of the LWCF is unexcusable; indeed, those who sought its expiration--the far right--live in districts that have benefitted significantly from the LWCF.  For instance, here in Boise, LWCF funds paid for the city to turn its river-side chock-full of industrial parks and gravel pits into a beloved urban bike path along the river that now forms the spine of the city.  Here is a YouTube video of the "before of the Boise River (embedding of the video was disabled).  Here is the "after" video showing the Boise Greenbelt paid for with LWCF funds.


It is ironic that many of the most conservative cities will be those that have less park land to show for the failure of the far-right representatives they elect to reauthorize the LWCF.


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