For the first time in 50 years Congress failed to renew one of our most effective conservation programs in American history. The Land and Water Conservation fund. (LWCF)
In 1965 a deal was struck with oil companies to open America’s offshore areas for drilling. In exchange, they agreed to pay a royalty on oil and gas they produced. Much the same way they pay private landowners...but in this case the “deal” was with the American people. It was a publicly supported solution that, in more civil political times, had bipartisan support in congress.
The premise was simple; to utilize revenues from the depletion of one natural resource, offshore oil and gas, to support conservation of other natural resources like found within our national parks and wildlife refuges. As a royalty, not an income tax.. it rises and falls with energy production. Energy companies liked it because they only pay for what they bring to market..and American taxpayers liked it because it required no additional income tax.
As the sole program for federal land acquisitions and grants that target state and local recreation needs, the LWCF has provided lasting tangible results benefiting every Arkansan. So much so that EVERY county in Arkansas has a state or local park project that, either by acquisition or development, has been funded by the LWCF. Washington and Benton counties alone received over $2 million dollars of LWC funds for its parks and recreation areas since the program began.2 From sportsmen utilizing the duck rich habitat of Cache River Wildlife Refuge, to families picnicking in the grasses of Burns park, to romantics witnessing sunsets on the blue waters of Degray lake, all have benefited from the LWCF.
So long as the wells and drilling remain, royalties should be collected as originally agreed and utilized for the protection of national wildlife refuges, national parks and other jewels of our American landscape.
Learn more by visiting these links below
NC Interactive Map Showing Lands Funded by LWCF
Land & Water Conservation Fund Coalition