With hunting season in Arizona just around the corner, the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) – the largest and most critical national parks and public lands fund – still hasn’t been fully or permanently funded. A new op-ed in the Arizona Republic from Western Values Project Executive Director Chris Saeger urges Sen. McSally to commit to funding this critical program, which supports public lands and national parks in Arizona:
“For more than five decades, the Land and Water Conservation Fund has been one of the most important programs for protecting and conserving public lands and national monuments. It’s how important infrastructure projects that give us access to the backcountry are funded. Without it, access for hunters, anglers, and others could be drastically curtailed.”
“But now, with special interests running the Department of Interior and the White House, the fate of the conservation fund is at risk. […] If the program isn’t fully funded, America’s — and Arizona’s — public lands could be sold off to the highest bidder, and ongoing conservation projects will suffer.”
“For Sen. McSally and others in Congress, the time to act is now.”
Sen. McSally previously voted to pass the LWCF into permanent law, dedicating her vote to the late Senator John McCain, and stressed the importance of the fund in a recent congressional hearing. But her talking points ring empty: McSally is not a co-sponsor of the pending bipartisan legislation that would fully and permanently fund the LWCF. McSally continues to support President Trump’s public lands stance, even though the administration’s proposed budget nearly zeroed out LWCF funding. McSally even recently committed to hiking the Arizona National Scenic Trail, which is in desperate need of LWCF funding to secure sections of the trail.
The LWCF has invested more than $243 million in the past half-century to protect Arizona’s iconic parks – including providing funding for popular national parks like the Grand Canyon – as well as opening up hunting, fishing and hiking access across the state. Arizona’s outdoor recreation generates $1.4 billion annually in state and local tax revenue, supports 201,000 jobs, and helps provide a place for more than 1.5 million people each year to enjoy the outdoors.
McSally has not clarified with her Arizona constituents why she is not co-sponsoring legislation to permanently and fully fund the LWCF and has remained silent on whether the Senate has any plans to actually fund the LWCF upon return from August recess.