November 5, 2015
Today, Chairman Rob Bishop (R-UT) released a discussion draft of legislation titled the “Protecting America’s Recreation and Conservation (PARC) Act,” which includes several substantive reforms to update the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF), enacted in 1965.
“The LWCF’s current lopsided funding ratio makes limited funds available to establish recreation projects and facilities that can be responsibly managed and maintained by State and local entities while continuing to vastly expand the federal estate,” Bishop said. “Even more troubling on the federal side is that the money is being spent with little transparency, scant oversight, and minimal local input.”
Provisions in the discussion draft include: changing appropriation ratios for state and federal programs, emphasizing urban recreational access, limiting funds that may be made available for federal land acquisition or for eminent domain, and designing programs to increase revenues and streamline permitting for offshore energy projects.
Bishop is not alone in calling for much needed improvements to the law.
“Updating this law is a bipartisan effort. Pennsylvania’s Governor Tom Wolf, a Democrat, in a recent letter called upon Congress ‘to rebalance funding toward the states’ and ‘renew the Act with a restored commitment to an equitable share for state grants” said Bishop. “Other groups such as the American Wildlife Conservation Partners have called on Congress to ‘modernize LWCF to address contemporary issues’ and secure funding for programs that ‘continue its legacy of success.’”
In early October Bishop sent a letter to Interior Secretary Sally Jewell and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack inquiring about the use of LWCF funds for federal land acquisition. The Department of Interior’s response letter failed to answer Bishop’s pressing questions about the use and abuse of LWCF funds.
To read the legislative draft, click here.
To listen to the press call, click here.
For a backgrounder, click here.