Senator Collins speaks from Senate floor in support of LWCF, set to expire today
WASHINGTON, D.C. — With the expiration of the federal Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) set to take effect today, U.S. Senator Susan Collins spoke from the Senate floor today about a bill she cosponsored to provide a temporary 60-day extension for the program.
“LWCF is our most important and successful conservation and outdoor recreation program,”said Senator Collins. “This landmark conservation program has created outdoor recreation opportunities in every state and 98 percent of counties across the country. I support the permanent reauthorization of the LWCF and I remain committed to continuing to work with the bipartisan coalition of Senators who support creating a more stable, long-term plan that allows landowners, states, local communities, and conservation partners to reasonably plan for the future.”
The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee has reported a bipartisan bill that would permanently extend the program. This short-term extension will provide the time that is necessary over the next few weeks to achieve permanent authorization and consistent funding of the LWCF.
In September, a bipartisan coalition of 53 senators led by Senators Collins, Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Richard Burr (R-N.C.), and Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) authored a letter calling on Senate leadership to permanently reauthorize and adequately fund the nation’s premier federal conservation program, now in its 50th year.
In June, Senators Collins and Steve Daines (R-MT) offered an amendment to the Fiscal Year 2016 Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies Appropriations Bill which was approved by the Senate Appropriations Committee and passed as part of the reported bill. The amendment adds another $13.9 million for the LWCF Program, bringing it in line with the current funding level.
The bipartisan extension bill offered today, S. 2101, was introduced by Senator Richard Burr and cosponsored by Senators Collins, Steve Daines (R-MT), Kelly Ayotte (R-NH), Lamar Alexander (R-TN), Michael Bennet (D-CO), Cory Gardner (R-CO), Patrick Leahy (D-VT), and Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH). Senator Collins is also a cosponsor of Senator Burr’s legislation to permanently reauthorize LWCF, S. 338.
Senator Collins’ remarks, as prepared for delivery:
Mr. President, I am pleased to join my colleagues in cosponsoring this bill to provide a short-term extension for the Land and Water Conservation Fund.
Fifty years ago, the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) Act of 1964 established America’s most successful conservation and recreation program. The Fund was designed to assure that outdoor recreation lands would be secured, on a pay-as-you-go basis, for future generations. As we mark this anniversary, however, this valuable program is about to expire.
The Land and Water Conservation Fund is our most important and successful conservation and outdoor recreation program – there is nothing else like it and we should support it.
While funding for the program could continue to be appropriated beyond the September 30 expiration date, the authority to collect revenue into the Fund would expire. We must act quickly today to reauthorize the LWCF so that we do not lose this important connection to a conservation effort.
Investments in this landmark conservation program support access to the outdoors for all Americans. The LWCF has created outdoor recreation opportunities in every state and 98 percent of counties across the country. Its funding has been used to open up key areas for hunting, fishing, and other recreational access; support working forests and ranches; acquire inholdings and protect critical lands in national parks, national wildlife refuges, national forests, Civil War battlefields and other federal areas; and to support state and local projects -- from ball parks to recreation trails.
I support the permanent reauthorization of the LWCF and believe Congress has an obligation to make good on the promise that was made to the American people, back in 1964, to take the proceeds from natural resource development and invest a portion in conservation and outdoor recreation.
The Senate Energy and Natural Resources has favorably reported a bipartisan bill that would permanently extend the program. A short-term extension now will provide the time that is needed over the next few weeks to work together to achieve permanent authorization and consistent funding of the LWCF, and to help ensure that the Fund plays the strongest possible role in helping to revitalize local communities for another fifty years.
I remain committed to continuing to work with the bipartisan coalition of Senators who support creating a more stable, long-term plan for LWCF that allows landowners, states, local communities, and conservation partners to reasonably plan for the future.
I urge my colleagues to support to support this 60-day extension.