Existing Land and Water Conservation Fund and Urban Park and Recreation Recovery Program 1999 Initiatives
President Clinton and a key group of bipartisan leaders in the 106th Congress are advocating initiatives that would reinvest revenues from Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) oil and gas leases, on a permanent basis, to ensure long-term funding for the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) and its urban companion, the Urban Park and Recreation Recovery Program (UPARR).
For more than three decades, the Land and Water Conservation Fund, has been a cornerstone of conservation and recreation, using revenues from offshore oil and gas leases to preserve wilderness, wetlands, and refuges, protect habitat; create parks and open spaces; and enhance recreation opportunities. LWCF has been responsible for the acquisition of nearly seven million acres of parkland and open space and the development of more than 37,000 state parks and recreation projects. However, in the early 1980's, the majority of LWCF funds, authorized at $900 million, was diverted to the general treasury and to programs totally unrelated to parks, conservation, and recreation.
In response, Americans for Our Heritage and Recreation (AHR), a national group of conservation, park and recreation leaders, urban, open space and cultural preservation advocates, and the sporting goods industry, has embarked upon a nationwide grassroots campaign to renew a federal partnership in open space protection and revitalize LWCF and its urban partner UPARR.
Below is a summary of LWCF and UPARR funding initiatives Congress is currently considering.
Lands Legacy Initiative
The Clinton Administration has proposed $1 billion in the President's FY 2000 budget for protection of America's lands and coastal resources. Funding for LWCF includes $440 million for federal LWCF acquisition and $150 million for a modified LWCF stateside program that replaces the current formula of distribution among all states with competitive grants for a variety of conservation uses. However, recreation funding, a traditional component of stateside LWCF, is excluded and only $4 million is allocated for the Urban Park and Recreation Recovery Program (UPARR). The President's initiative, however, does include $50 million in competitive grants for smart growth planning, $50 million for the Forest Legacy program, $80 million for habitat conservation, $50 million for farmland protection, and $200 million for coastal protection. In announcing his initiative, the President made a commitment to seek permanent funding for these programs next year.
Conservation and Reinvestment Act (H.R. 701) House Resources
Committee Chair Don Young (R-AK) and Ranking House Energy and Commerce Committee Representative John Dingell (D-MI) have introduced this bipartisan legislation, also known as CARA, which provides permanent funding from OCS revenues for LWCF and UPARR, Impact Aid for coastal states to offset the effect of offshore drilling, and state fish and wildlife agency funding for game and non-game species under the Pittman-Robertson Act, similar to Teaming with Wildlife, but without the excise tax. Under the bill's formula, 60% of OCS revenues are dedicated to funding these programs. Federal and stateside LWCF programs receive $378 million each and UPARR, with new land acquisition authority, getting $144 million, for a total of $900 million.
However, CARA currently contains unacceptable restrictions on LWCF's federal program including: restricting acquisition to federal inholdings; requiring 2/3rds of funds to be expended east of the 100th meridian; requiring congressional authorization for acquisitions costing more than $1 million; and including a restrictive ban on condemnation. The bill also allocates $1.24 million to coastal states for coastal restoration and mitigation but uses a formula that ties funding to proximity of wells. Accordingly, offshore oil-producing states and counties receive a significantly greater proportion of the coastal funds, thus opening the door for new drilling. A provision has been added, however, to prohibit funding from wells not currently in production in moratorium states. Finally, the bill provides $440 million for the Teaming alternative. The legislation was introduced in February with hearings conducted by the House Resources Committee beginning in March.
Conservation and Reinvestment Act (S. 25)
Similar to the Young/Dingell bill, the Senate proposal, also known as CARA , permanently funds LWCF and UPARR, Impact Aid, and the Teaming with Wildlife alternative. The bill, sponsored by Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee Chair Frank Murkowski (R-AK) and Senator Mary Landrieu (D-LA), has bipartisan support, including co-sponsorship by Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott. Under the bill's formula, 50% of OCS revenues are dedicated annually to support these programs. The federal and stateside LWCF components would receive $340 million each, with UPARR, revamped to include land acquisition authority, receiving $73.4 million. The Teaming alternative receives $321 million.
Like its House counterpart, the bill restricts LWCF's federal program to: acquisition of federal inholdings; requiring 2/3rds of funds to be expended east of the 100th meridian; requiring congressional authorization for acquisitions costing more than $5 million; and including a restrictive ban on condemnation. Funding for coastal states totals $1.24 billion; again offshore oil producing states benefit significantly from a formula tied to oil and gas drilling and production that allows them a significantly greater share of the funding. Unlike the House version, there is no language exempting revenues from moratorium states or any restrictions on the use of coastal funds, thus creating potential incentives for new drilling. Hearings are set for April and May.
Permanent Protection for America's Resources 2000 (H.R. 798) (S. 446)
Ranking House Resources Committee Representative George Miller (D-CA) and Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA) have proposed an impressive $2.3 billion package that provides permanent funding from OCS revenues for LWCF, UPARR, lands restoration, endangered species, ocean fish and wildlife protection, historic preservation, and conservation easements for farm, range land, and forests. Under the proposed legislation, known as Resources 2000, LWCF is funded at its full $900 million authorization level, with $450 million allocated to the federal side and $450 million to the state-matching grants program, under which 2/3rds of the funds are allocated in the traditional manner to states and 1/3rd distributed through a competitive grant program. Regional lands of national significance would be eligible for funding under this competitive grant component. The bills provide an additional $100 million for UPARR, while historic preservation is funded at $150 million. Unlike the CARA proposals, Resources 2000 contains no new restrictions on federal land acquisition and limits funding to current leasing in both moratorium and non-moratorium states, thus free of incentives for new drilling.
In addition, Resources 2000 provides $300 million in coastal assistance for conservation and management of ocean fish and wildlife under a formula that is not tied to offshore oil and gas production, but rather distributes 2/3rds of the funds based on coastline size and population and 1/3rd for competitive grants. The bill also provides $350 million to states for development and implementation of state wildlife conservation plans for non-game species under the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Act. The Resources 2000 initiatives were introduced in February with Democratic co-sponsors in the House and Senate, including support from Minority Leader Richard Gephardt (D-MO) who introduced his own permanent LWCF funding legislation last year. The House and Senate Resources Committees will include the Resources 2000 bills in their upcoming hearings on CARA.
Public Land and Recreation Investment Act (S. 532)
Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) introduced legislation focused solely on guaranteeing permanent funding for the traditional LWCF and UPARR programs at the $900 million level. The bill provides $450 million annually for LWCF's federal component, with no new restrictions on federal acquisition. LWCF's state matching grants program receives $360 million, with local governments receiving 50 % of the funds. The proposed legislation also allows Indian tribes to be recognized collectively as one state under the state grants program. UPARR, revised to include land acquisition authority, is funded at $90 million. Representative Tom Campbell (R-CA) plans to introduce a companion bill in the House.
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