Saturday, October 3, 2015

State and Federal Money Possibly being cut from Natural Resource Programs

State and Federal Money Possibly being cut from Natural Resource Programs

While budget talks continue in Springfield, you might not be aware of other whispers happening in Washington D.C. October 1st starts the fiscal year for the federal government. While congress prolonged funding of the federal government, they didn't fund the Land Water and Conservation Fund (LWCF).

Created in 1965 by Congress, "the Land and Water Conservation Fund is a Federal program supporting the protection of federal public lands and waters – including national parks, forests, wildlife refuges and recreation areas. LWCF also secure public access, improve recreational opportunities and preserve ecosystem benefits for local communities". 1

Where's the money come from? It comes from the the oil and gas companies and their off shore drilling rigs. These billion dollar industries pay money to the federal government for leases on federal land. So while depleting one natural resource, there money goes to conserving others, so there are no tax payer dollars in this program.

The money goes to parks like Yellowstone the Grand Canyon. How does that benefit us here in Illinois? There's a portion in this program called "LWCF State Grants Program. It "provides matching grants to state and tribal governments for the acquisition and development of public parks and other outdoor recreation sites. Grants have funded projects in every county in the country, over 40,000 projects since 1965. Number of projects = 41,999. Funding provided = $3.9 billion".1

Illinois must have their Statewide Comprehensive Outdoor Recreation Plan (SCORP) submitted to be eligible for this program.  . What is SCORP? - "it identifies Illinois needs and new opportunities for recreation improvements and set forth an implementation program to meet the goals identified by its citizens and elected leaders".2

 In April of 2015 Governor Rauner submitted the 2015 -2019 SCORP demonstrating Illinois commitment to the LWCF program.  Sounds good right? Well remember this program currently isn't funded. Which means the money can't be allocated to the states which means projects like acquiring new land for more opportunities are put on hold.  Read Illinois SCORP

The LWCF has a clear advantage here in Illinois.  With the Illinois Department of Natural Resources budget being cut for over a decade, matching Federal funds is vital to those of us who hunt, fish and use our public parks.  Contact your member of Congress and urge them to pass the LWCF.  Remind them how this money is used in their district.

1. Department of the Interior 
2 National Park Service

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