SAN FRANCISCO– San Francisco Recreation and Park Department (RPD) and elected officials of City andCountyofSan Franciscourged the U.S. Congress to provide funding for the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF). LWCF has done more than any other program to expand the systems of local parks, recreational green spaces and public lands enjoyed by hundreds of millions of Americans.
The San Francisco Board of Supervisors approved a resolution urging Congress to providing funding for LWCF onOctober 7, 2011. Funding for this program is at a critical juncture both in this budget cycle, and in the larger context of our nation’s long-term fiscal health. The U.S. House of Representatives has proposed a funding level of $90 million for LWCF in 2012, an all-time low; the U.S Senate is proposing stronger investment in LWCF at $350 million, which is still less than 40% of the program’s authorized level. Further, the Congressional Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction (commonly referred to as the “Super Committee”) must make recommendations to Congress next month on how to trim $1.5 trillion from the federal budget, which could affect LWCF.
“Land and Water Conservation Fund is a vital investment in providing a sustainable future for all of us,” said Supervisor Scott Wiener. “We must fight to protect our earth not only for us but many generations to come.”
The LWCF is funded from a fraction of the proceeds from federal offshore oil and gas leasing royalties, and does not rely on taxpayer dollars. However, the diversion of LWCF funding has been diverted to other purpose, as a result, state and local governments have been severely limited in their capacity to develop parks and open spaces and protect green space and local water supplies in light of rapidly increasing populations.
“As park stewards, we know how important outdoor recreational and green space is for a healthy community,” said Phil Ginsburg, RPD General Manger. “We urge our policy makers to prioritize funding for better protection of our land and water.”
In fact, the LWCF State Assistance program has invested more than $287,883,182 in California since 1965 and has funded local projects in San Francisco such as over $1.6 million for McLaren Park since 1967 and most recently $102,000 for the Visitacion Greenway Development Improvements and $115,000 for Buena Vista Park, just to name a few.
LWCF was established by Congress in 1965 to preserve, develop and assure accessibility to quality outdoor recreation resources to strengthen the health and vitality of the citizens of theUnited States. Investments from the LWCF program support the creation of public parks in rural and urban communities throughout America, protect green space and local water supplies, guarantee outdoor recreation opportunities, spur economic development, create jobs and significantly aid national efforts to promote health, connect youth to nature and the outdoors, combat childhood obesity and protect the environment.