Veterans who are lawmakers see results of Capitol Hill meetings as Conservation Fund set to be permanently funded

EOPA Veterans who are lawmakers see results of Capitol Hill meetings as Land and Water Conservation Fund set to be permanently funded

Members of the Elected Officials to Protect America's Lands met with Sen. Rob Wyden, and other US Senators, on Sept 6th on Capitol Hill to urge the reauthorization of the Land and Water Conservation Fund. Sen Wyden, and all the US Senators they met met with want the LWCF fully funded. From left to right in the back: State Sen. Rick Kolowski (NE), Asm. Felix Ortiz (NY) US Senator Rob Wyden, State Rep. Paul Evans, Former State Rep. Alexander Cornell du Houx, (ME) Delegate Pat Young (MD). In the front: State Rep. Debbie Sarinana,(NM) and Rep. Michael Sheehy (OH).

Photos and Article By Ramona du Houx in Maine Insights

According to Politico, the top Republican and Democrat on the House Natural Resources Committee have struck a deal to permanently reauthorize the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF). Among other provisions, the deal ensures that at least 40 percent of the fund goes toward state programs and another 40 percent at least goes toward federal ones.

“The apparent Permanente resolution of the LWCF budget is a critical step in fostering both better stewardship of our natural spaces and an important symbol: Veterans can play a helpful role in facilitating good policy,” said State Representative Paul Evans of Oregon. “It’s our job to stand up, as veterans, and make sure government works for everyone. I went to D.C. because we have to make sure sustainability and stewardship are national priorities. Our natural spaces are at least as important, in terms of national security, as our oil.”

Just a week ago on September 6, 2018, Evans met with lawmakers on Capitol Hill to urge Congress to reauthorize the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF), America’s most important conservation and recreation program. 

Evans came to Washington, D.C., as part of a delegation of elected officials from across the country, all of whom are U.S. military veterans. Members of the delegation are part of Elected Officials to Protect America’s Public Lands, a nonpartisan group of veterans serving in elected office.

Prior to the trip, Evans joined 78 other elected officials who are veterans and sent to a letter to U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke urging him to do everything in his power to protect the LWCF.

The elected officials met with the following Members of Congress:

  • Sen. Ron Wyden (OR)
  • Sen. Jeff Merkley (OR)
  • Sen. Martin Heinrich (NM)
  • Sen. Tom Udall (NM)
  • Sen. Angus King (ME)
  • Rep. Peter DeFazio (OR-4)
  • Sen. Chuck Schumer (NY)
  • Sen. Rob Portman (OH)

In the back: Delegate Pat Young (MD), Sen. Rick Kolowski (NE), Asm. Felix Ortiz (NY) In the front Rep. Michael Sheeh (OH), Rep. Debbie Sarinana (NM) and Rep. Paul Evans as they march to Capitol Hill to meet with US Senators about reauthorizing the LWCF.

Since 1964, LWCF has touched every state, conserving national parks and forests, land by rivers, lakes and oceans, working forests, farms and ranches, fish and wildlife refuges, trails, and more than 41,000 state and local parks in every corner of the United States. All this has been done at no cost to taxpayers as the program is entirely funded through royalties collected on offshore drilling.

 Reps. Rob Bishop (R-Utah) and Raúl Grijalva's (D-Ariz.) agreement, with support from Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.), would extend the life of the conservation program that expires Sept. 30th and might also pave the way for the Senate to more quickly pass a broad water infrastructure package.

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