(Sept. 20, 2018) Pittsburgh, Pa. – PennFuture and the Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy today are holding a press conference at Frick Environmental Center in support of the Land and Water Conservation Fund, one of the country’s longest and most successful conservation programs, benefiting more than 41,000 state and local parks, all with bipartisan support and no cost to taxpayers.
Unfortunately, without an act of Congress, the LWCF will expire on September 30, 2018.
The 4 p.m. press conference includes speakers Samuel Robinson, Deputy Chief of Staff for Gov. Tom Wolf; Heather Sage, Director of Community Projects at Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy; Kelsey Krepps, Western PA Outreach Coordinator of PennFuture, NWF’s state affiliate organization; and Steve Hegedus, President of the Tri-County Trout Club.
In a letter of support for LWCF issued today to the Pennsylvania delegation, Gov. Tom Wolf states,
“Over 50 years ago, Congress passed the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) Act, a remarkable bipartisan measure that provides urban and rural outdoor recreation opportunities for all Americans. Unfortunately, without congressional action this tremendous resource to states will expire at the end of this month. I write to request that you support H.R. 502, which was reported from the House Committee on Natural Resources last week, and to urge your leadership to make this a priority in the coming days. This bill provides for the permanent reauthorization of the LWCF, to ensure that the Fund will continue to enable new recreational opportunities for future generations in Pennsylvania and across the nation.”
U.S. Senator Bob Casey issued the following statement: “I remain committed to preserving the beauty and diversity of Pennsylvania’s natural environment for generations to come. We must be good stewards of our land and support efforts to protect and maintain access to our National Parks and outdoor recreation areas. This is why it’s time to permanently authorize funding for the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF). I have long supported the LWCF for the work it does to acquire and preserve sites across Pennsylvania and the nation. I am a cosponsor of bipartisan legislation to permanently reauthorize and fully fund the LWCF. I have, and will continue to, call on Congressional leadership to bring this legislation up for a vote.”
In Pennsylvania alone, LWCF has invested more than $315 million to protect historical sites and battlefields such as the Flight 93 National Memorial and Gettysburg National Military Park, outdoor recreational spaces like the Appalachian National Scenic Trail and the Allegheny National Forest, and local projects like little league baseball fields, community pools, and neighborhood playgrounds.
Krepps highlighted some of the state’s well-known parks supported by LWCF.
“Sites and projects supported by LWCF include the development of Frick Park trails, a boat ramp on Lake Erie, land acquisition for Gettysburg National Military Park, the Flight 93 National Memorial, and LeHigh State Park, portions of the Allegheny National Forest, and the soccer fields that my little brother and sister grew up on in Titusville. Land and Water Conservation Fund projects have provided our communities with spaces to move and play, learn, gather, explore, fish, hike, bike, contemplate and sometimes, heal.”
In addition to these projects, open spaces contribute to Pennsylvania’s outdoor recreation industry which generates $1.9 billion in state and local tax revenue, with $30 billion in consumer spending, supporting 251,000 jobs and small business owners.
“Many of Pittsburgh’s parks were formed or enhanced through Land and Water Conservation Fund dollars,” said Jayne Miller, President and CEO of the Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy. “The health, well-being and overall quality of life here in Pittsburgh and the region is in part owed to this essential national funding. So, whether you love a national, state, regional or neighborhood park- this fund has done something for you and yours, and without immediate Congressional action, it will not continue to do so in the future.”
PennFuture is leading the transition to a clean energy economy in Pennsylvania, fighting big polluters with legal muscle, enforcing environmental laws, and supporting legislative policy that protects public health. PennFuture is engaging and educating citizens about the realities of climate change, and giving them the tools needed to influence lawmakers on the issues. Visit www.pennfuture.org for more information.
Stephanie Rex, Director of Communications, PennFuture