Prior to leaving Washington D.C. for summer recess, Senator Martha McSally (R-AZ) announced a lofty goal to enjoy Arizona’s public lands by attempting to become the first member of Congress to hike the entire length of a national scenic trail. Unfortunately, the trail Sen. McSally is attempting to complete is in desperate need of funding from the Land and Water Conservation Fund – a program that McSally has let languish with an empty bank account.
“Senator McSally has yet to co-sponsor legislation that would fully and permanently fund the Land and Water Conservation Fund. And now, she is off enjoying her state’s great trails and public lands that desperately need that program’s funding,” said Chris Saeger, Executive Director of Western Values Project. “Public lands are a critical piece of Arizona’s outdoor heritage. If she is going to take advantage of these trails, the least McSally can do is commit to funding their development and protection.”
Senator McSally declared she wanted to become the first member of Congress to hike the entire length of the federally designated National Scenic Trail (NST), recently hiking a portion of the near Flagstaff. The Arizona Trail portion of the NST is not fully protected without the LWCF. While LWCF funding legislation is pending, 88 miles along Arizona trail’s route could be sold off at any time. As of now, entire sections of the Arizona Trail are surrounded by private land, forcing trail users to use a section of road that is inundated with mining trucks. Funding from the LWCF would help the purchase lands to move the trail off the busy road.
McSally 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, even though the administration’s proposed budget nearly zeroed out LWCF funding.
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. McSally has not clarified with her Arizona constituents why she is not cosponsoring LWCF legislation and has remained silent on whether the Senate has any plans to move the pending legislation.