WV Conservation Groups, Businesses Applaud Manchin and Capito On Funding for Outdoors
Senators Support for Land and Water Conservation Fund seen critical to West Virginia’s outdoor heritage and economy
Charleston, WV — An alliance of more than a hundred conservation organizations and businesses praised West Virginia’s two U.S. Senators for championing renewal of a funding program that has brought more than $240 million to the state over five decades. The group, under the name West Virginians for Public Lands, says the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) has been critical to the state’s Wild and Wonderful brand by funding land purchases for national parks, forests, and wildlife management areas. It also funds improvements to state and local parks.
“Nearly every county in West Virginia has received LWCF funding over its 53-year history,” said Matt Kearns, public lands coordinator with West Virginia Rivers Coalition. “The fund is set to expire September 30, and without reauthorization, our state could lose out on millions of dollars. We’re proud Senator Manchin and Senator Capito have committed to work for permanent reauthorization and dedicated funding.”
LWCF is funded from a portion of the royalties collected by the federal government for the development of public offshore oil and gas resources. The program carries no additional cost to household taxpayers.
Manchin and Capito support bills to permanently reauthorize LWCF, with Manchin taking a step further to sponsor a bill to help ensure full funding of the program. Both senators recently sent a letter urging Senate leadership to quickly pass legislation supporting permanent, dedicated funding. Representatives David McKinley and Evan Jenkins also have expressed support for the fund. Each recently opposed amendments that would have diverted money and gutted the Land and Water Conservation Fund in advance of its September 30 renewal.
“The fact that our senators are leading the charge to make LWCF fully and permanently funded shows their recognition of how important public lands and outdoor recreation is to West Virginia’s identity and economy,” said Kearns. “We’re cheering them on to get it over the finish line.”