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State Rep. Michael Sheehy (D-Oregon) joined Elected Officials to Protect America’s Public Lands, a nonpartisan delegation of military veteran lawmakers, from across the nation in travelling to Washington DC last Thursday to urge Congress to reauthorize the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF), America’s long-standing conservation and recreation program.
“Joining this dedicated coalition of public servants in our nation’s capital has left me overwhelmingly optimistic about the future of our land and water,” said Sheehy. “Even at a time when division reigns over unity, Republicans and Democrats can still come together for the preservation of our history and our legacy.”
Since 1964, LWCF has helped preserve 41,000 state and local parks in every corner of the United States. The LWCF works to conserve national parks and forests, land by rivers, lakes and oceans, working forests, farms and ranches, fish and wildlife refuges and trails. Ohio has received approximately $333 million in LWCF funding over the past five decades, protecting places such as Cuyahoga Valley National Park, Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge, Wayne National Forest, James Garfield National Historic Site and numerous other landscapes.
All this has been done at no cost to taxpayers as the program is entirely funded through royalties collected on offshore drilling. Unless Congress takes immediate action, the LWCF will expire on September 30.
While on Capitol Hill, Sheehy shared his concerns with members of Congress including:
- Sen. Ron Wyden (OR)
- Sen. Rob Portman (OH)
- Sen. Jeff Merkley (OR)
- Sen. Martin Heinrich (NM)
- Rep. Peter DeFazio (OR)
Prior to the trip, Sheehy joined dozens of other elected officials who sent a letter to U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke urging him to protect the LWCF. Although Secretary Zinke has stated that he supports the LWCF, President Trump’s proposed budget slashed its funding by 95%.