In some good news today, the House Committee on Natural Resources has advanced bill HR502(115), a compromise agreement that would permanently reauthorize one of America's great ideas: the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF). This came after lawmakers rejected an series of amendments that would have reduced the LWCF's annual authorization from $900 million to $425 million.
While a step in the right direction, Congress still only has a few weeks to reauthorize and fund the LWCF. As mentioned in other posts and our recent action alert, the existence of the LWCF is hanging by a thread and we need to pressure Congress to save this incredibly important program! In order to highlight the environmental protection and recreational benefits associated with the LWCF, we're showcasing just a few places in California that have benefited from the LCWF:
San Onofre State Beach
In 1972, San Onofre State Beach received LWCF funds. Those funds helped make San Onofre a worldwide destination, and California’s 5thmost visited state park, bringing in over 2.5 million visitors annually. San Onofre is arguably one of the most unique stretches of beach in California because the park houses world class surfing, camping, and hiking. The park also provides refugee for 12 threatened and endangered species and contains sacred Native American sites. San Onofre State Beach is especially important to Surfrider as we have been fighting to protect the park from transit development. There is no question that Surfrider members and staff have spent countless hours playing in this park!
Bolsa Chica State Beach and Huntington Beach State Beach
The stunning sandy beaches of these two adjacent parks provide endless recreational opportunities and habits for threatened species. In the early 1970s, the LWCF provided over $3 million dollars for land acquisition at Bolsa Chica State Beach. In the mid-80s the LWCF provided nearly $2 million to establish Huntington State Beach which is located in “Surf City USA.”
Since 1910, Huntington Beach has embraced surfing and that legacy carries on today where victors can go to the Surfer’s Hall of Fame, the International Surfing Museum, or stop by U.S. Open of Surfing (the world’s largest annual surf competition).
California’s National Parks
California is extremely fortunate to have many state and national parks. From the redwood forests, to the desert, and to the beaches, the LWCF has provided funding to help protect some of California’s most special places and ensure recreational opportunities. California has received approximately $2.447 billion in LWCF funding over the past five decades, protecting places such as Joshua Tree National Park, Golden Gate Park, Lake Tahoe, Sequoia National Park, Redwood National Park and many, many more.
Had these special parks not received funds from the LWCF there would be less environmental protection and recreation in the Golden State—and less economic activity. The Outdoor Industry Association found that outdoor recreation supports $92 billion in consumer spending in California, and creates 691,000 jobs generating $30.4 billion in wages and salaries.
Despite the LWCF being so important and successful, the Trump Administration is willing to compromise the program. The President’s Fiscal Year 2019 Budget proposal would gut the Land and Water Conservation Fund. While the President’s budget is just “a proposal,” Congress has the power to save the LWCF.
Help us convince Congress to do the right thing! We must fight to protect the LWCF so that future generations will benefit from this amazing program that protects the environment and recreation.