An important conservation fund, which had been threatened in Congress, is one step closer to permanent funding. For the first time, a dedicated money source for the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) has made it into legislation that passed the U.S. Senate.
Angie Rosser, executive director for the West Virginia Rivers Coalition, is praising Senators Shelley Moore Capito and Joe Manchin for voting to include the funding stream in an energy bill.
She says the LWCF has provided more than $200 million over the years to conserve and improve public access to some of the state’s special places.
“The New River, the Gauley River, Canaan Valley, Cacapon,” says Rosser. “It’s really an important way to create access to these lands, and identify with our image as wild and wonderful West Virginia.”
One House committee chair has pushed to have the LWCF money shifted to compensate counties where the federal government already owns land, saying he opposes more federal land purchases.
The House and Senate will have to settle differences on the energy bill. It’s a huge, complex piece of legislation, and Rosser says not everyone is going to agree with everything in it.
But she says LWCF grants have worked for 50 years to protect and improve everything from Civil War battlefields and federal wilderness areas to state parks and city pools.
Rosser says that’s going to be increasingly important, as West Virginia looks to tourism to make up for some of the lost coal-mining jobs…