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Updates on funding for Land and Water Conservation Fund

logo Secretary of Interior Ken Salazar Endorses Funding for LWCF

logo Bingaman LWCF Amendment Defeated

From National Recreation and Park Association (Feb. 2009)

Secretary of Interior Ken Salazar Endorses Funding for LWCF

In a departure from what NRPA has heard for a number of years from the Department of the Interior about the potential for increased funding for the Land and Water Conservation Fund, newly confirmed Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar has indicated a willingness to look at ways to creatively fund LWCF. Salazar said at a press conference on January 28, that he would like to see more funding to the LWCF program, possibly from the proceeds of oil and gas leasing royalties in a program similar to one he started in Colorado when he was head of the Colorado Department of Natural Resources.

Ken Salazar has long been a champion of the Land and Water Conservation Fund. When he was a Senator from Colorado, he joined forces with Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) in a bi-partisan effort to ensure that new lease revenues from expanded drilling in the eastern Gulf of Mexico were dedicated to the LWCF state assistance program in the Energy Security Act of 2006, the first time such dedicated funding was ever applied to LWCF since its inception in 1965.

Secretary Salazar said at the press conference, “I would like to see, with programs like the Land and Water Conservation Fund, if we might be able to do a similar thing with oil royalty reform, to engage in a similar type of effort across the country. We are just putting out ideas now but we will look at what we can do.” He also said, “Maybe as we deal with the royalty reform issue we might be able to create a revenue stream for the Land and Water Conservation Fund and we can do for all states the kinds of things we did in Colorado with the Great Outdoors Colorado program.”

This is welcome news, indeed, from the new Secretary of the Interior, and NRPA will be looking for ways to engage him further in a dialogue of how the “royalty-relief” funds could be used for LWCF purposes.

Bingaman LWCF Amendment Defeated

Late Friday evening a bipartisan group of Senators introduced an amendment to cut $100 billion from the Economic Recovery and Reinvestment Act. A vote on the amendment will likely take place over the weekend thereby setting the stage for a vote on a final Senate bill mid week next week.

Prior to the introduction of the amendment to this bipartisan group, Senator Jeff Bingaman (D-NM) introduced an amendment which included $100 million in funding for LWCF Stateside. Bingaman's amendment had not yet been brought to the floor for a vote when the spending reduction amendment was introduced. As a result of their comitment to decrease spending, Senate leaders would not allow votes on any pending amendments that would increase the cost of the bill, after the spending reduction amendment was offered. This in essence killed the Bingaman amendment.

The Public Policy Office has followed up with Senator Bingaman's staff who has indicated a willingness to continue efforts to increase funding for LWCF. NRPA will continue to work closely with Senator Bingaman has the bill goes to conference and during the FY 10 appropriations cycle.

Senate and House leaders hope to have the bill passed and on the desk of President Obama before they adjourn for President's Day Recess on February 13. This is a very tight schedule which means the Senate and House conference will move very rapidly.

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