Hearing Wrap-up: Nov. 18 Hearing on Chairman Bishop’s Discussion Draft of a Bill to Change the Popular Land and Water Conservation Fund
Hearing Establishes No Reason for Changes to Popular, Successful Program
Note: The original version of this press release said that Chairman Bishop "introduced" the PARC Act. There is currently only a discussion draft of the bill, and nothing has been introduced that would involve holding a vote. This version of the press release says Bishop has "drafted" the version of the PARC Act discussed at the hearing.
Today’s Natural Resources Committee hearing focused on the Protecting America’s Recreation and Conservation (PARC) Act, a bill drafted by Chairman Rob Bishop (R-Utah) to dramatically restructure the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF). LWCF is a successful and popular recreation and conservation program with a 50-year history of bipartisan support. House Republicans allowed the program to expire for the first time in its history on September 30, 2015.
Ranking Member Raúl M. Grijalva (D-Ariz.) has made numerous requests for a clean LWCF reauthorization and continues to urge consideration of H.R. 1814, legislation he introduced in April that now has the support of 195 bipartisan cosponsors. Today, Democrats on the Committee used House rules to compel a second day of hearings on the importance of reauthorizing LWCF. That second hearing has not yet been scheduled.
- Chairman Rob Bishop’s discussion draft of the PARC Act (to change the popular Land and Water Conservation Fund)
- Kristen Sarri, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary, Policy Management and Budget, Department of the Interior
- William Bryan, Director, Missouri State Parks and Recreation
- Madeline Burillo, Associate Vice Chancellor, Houston Community College
- Tom Wolfe, Principle, Public Affairs Consulting, Arlington, Virginia
- Travis Campbell, Chief Executive Officer, Far Bank Enterprises
- The PARC Act distorts the original purpose of the Fund by diverting 35 percent of annual appropriations from the LWCF to non-conservation and recreation purposes.
- All LWCF expenditures are approved by Congress, through the appropriations process, which is more transparent than most federal spending and is the opposite of the “slush fund” Republicans continually decry without evidence.
- We do not need to rob the LWCF in order to pay for land maintenance or PILT. Members concerned about backlogged maintenance or PILT should support increased federal funding for those programs without taking money from LWCF.
- The Land and Water Conservation Fund has not drifted from its original intent. Funding for state matching grants has fluctuated over the years not because of any change in LWCF’s mission, but because of previous congressional appropriations decisions. Many of these decisions were made during Republican Congresses and supported by Members on the Committee.
- Every year, from 1965 through September of this year, the Fund was authorized to spend $900 million annually – paid for by a fee on the development of oil and gas resources in the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) – to promote conservation and recreation opportunities across the county.
- In the 50 years since its establishment, LWCF’s Federal Land Protection Program has permanently protected more than 5 million acres of land in places such as Grand Canyon National Park, the Appalachian National Scenic Trail, the White Mountain National Forest, and Pelican Island National Wildlife Refuge.
- The State Assistance Program has issued more than $3.9 billion in grants, financed more than 40,000 projects, and leveraged more than $7 billion in non-federal matching funds since 1965.
- An analysis conducted by House Natural Resources Committee Democrats using federal and conservation group data revealed that many of the districts represented by Committee Democrats and Republicans enjoy millions of dollars in LWCF conservation benefits. Six Committee Republicans have more than $8 million each in federal (as opposed to stateside) LWCF conservation funding in their respective districts.
- For more information on LWCF and efforts to renew it, visit http://1.usa.gov/1MkRmDY.
To view video highlights from today’s hearing, visit the hearing page.
House Natural Resources Committee Ranking Member Raúl M. Grijalva released the following statement after today’s hearing:
“We spent several hours this morning hearing about the wonderful things the Land and Water Conservation Fund has accomplished. What we didn’t hear was a single reason to pull it up by its roots and change the way it works. This reauthorization process has become controversial and difficult only because some of my colleagues think fifty years of popular success have made the Fund a complete failure. As many of my Democratic and Republican friends in both chambers agree, we need to reauthorize the Fund cleanly and permanently and move on to more pressing issues. The longer we wait, the more money the Fund loses and the less this Committee helps our country meet its real conservation needs.”
Media Contact: Adam Sarvana
(202) 225-6065 or (202) 578-6626
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