WASHINGTON, D.C. – April 22, 2015 – (RealEstateRama) — U.S. Senators Gary Peters (MI) announced today that he is co-sponsoring legislation to permanently authorize and fully fund the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF), which is set to expire September 30. The LWCF uses revenues from offshore oil and gas to create and protect national parks, areas around rivers and lakes, national forests, and national wildlife refuges, and to provide matching grants for state and local parks and recreation projects. The Land and Water Conservation Authorization and Funding Act of 2015 would fully fund the LWCF at $900 million for Fiscal Year 2016. Today marks Earth Day, 45 years after the first Earth Day in 1970 helped give birth to the modern environmental movement.
“Earth Day is an important reminder that we need to renew our efforts to tackle climate change, protect public lands and secure a healthy environment for future generations,” said Senator Peters. “For the past 50 years, the Land and Water Conservation Fund has been an essential tool for preserving some of Michigan’s most remarkable natural places for all of us to enjoy. That sustained investment in public outdoor spaces has helped instill the value and importance of taking care of our planet for so many in this country.”
Michigan has received approximately $322 million from the LWCF over the past five decades, which has helped protect places such as the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, the Keweenaw National Historical Park, the Detroit River International Wildlife Refuge, the North Country National Scenic Trail, and all of Michigan’s National Forests. State assistance grants have provided resources for state and local park projects, such as Presque Isle Park in Marquette County and Brighton State Recreation Area in Livingston County. Michigan received $1.13 million in matching grant funds in 2014.
Full funding for LWCF in the next fiscal year would include $1.8 million for Ottawa National Forest, $550,000 for Pilgrim River Forest, and $680,000 for Gitcha-ninj Nebish Forest. For every $1 spent through the LWCF, local communities see a $4 return on that investment.
“From the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore to the Detroit River International Wildlife Refuge, the Land and Water Conservation Fund has helped establish and expand parks and wild areas while boosting Michigan’s outdoor recreation industry,” added Senator Peters. “This vital conservation program should continue its mission with full funding to protect our land and water, an investment that will continue to benefit our environment and our economy.”
Outdoor recreation is a key component of Michigan’s economy, generating $18.7 billion in consumer spending and supporting nearly 200,000 jobs. The U.S. Census reports that 4.4 million people hunt, fish, or enjoy wildlife-watching in Michigan each year, contributing over $6.1 billion to the state’s economy.
Senator Peters is a consistent supporter of robust funding for the LWCF. Earlier this year, Peters co-sponsored an amendment to permanently reauthorize the LWCF and signed on to a bipartisan letter urging strong funding for LWCF and its related Forest Legacy Program in the appropriations process.