As entrepreneurs, business owners and leaders in Nevada, we strongly believe that the Landand Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) is of crucial importance to our state and nation.Unfortunately and unwisely, Congress has allowed this critical fund to expire, ignoring ourprevious plea to save LWCF. But Congress can correct this mistake. We urge you to vote forthe permanent reauthorization and full funding of LWCF at the soonest available opportunity thisfall.
LWCF was established as a funding mechanism to conserve our national parks, wildlife refuges,historic sites, forests, neighborhood parks and recreational centers, by providing grants toworking ranches and farms, protecting our drinking water, preserving critical wildlife habitat,providing public land access to sportsmen, and giving our children safe places to exercise.Over the last 53 years, Nevada has received over $102 million in LWCF funding to protect andupgrade special places like the Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area, Valley of FireState Park, Lake Mead National Recreation Area, Ash Meadows National Wildlife Refuge,Moapa National Wildlife Refuge, Stillwater National Wildlife Refuge, Walker River State Park,Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest and the Lake Tahoe Basin. Of this LWCF funding, $40million was provided through its State and Local Assistance Program. This grant matchingprogram has supported 325 projects in Nevada, including Floyd Lamb State Park, Sunset Park,Lorenzi Park, Springs Preserve, Wetlands Park, Spring Mountain Ranch State Park, SearchlightPark — with many more funds allocated for bike paths, ball fields, swimming pools, and otherfacilities.
The fund has also helped our state to attract entrepreneurs and tourists, increasing the value ofour protected public lands and ensuring that Nevadans can continue to enjoy camping, hiking,hunting, fishing, and other recreation activities. In Nevada, the outdoor recreation economygenerates 87,000 direct jobs, $4 billion in wages and salaries, $12.6 billion in consumerspending, and $1.1 billion in state and local tax revenue. For every $1 invested through theLWCF, there is an estimated return of $4 in local economic activity. This is not only good for ournation, environment, and people; it’s a good return on investment, too. And as Nevada moves todiversify our economy and lure more employers to the state, attention is turning to the crucialvalue public lands outdoor recreation brings to their employees’ quality of life.Failure to reauthorize LWCF yet again would remove our ability to finance new conservationprojects and invest in Nevada’s natural, cultural, and recreational heritage. It means that millionsof jobs and millions in revenue from the outdoor recreation industry could be lost, in addition tothe possibility that Nevada families would see favorite outdoor areas and recreation projectsremain unfinished or lost to development.
Despite overwhelming support from business leaders and many other communities forreauthorizing LWCF, its September 30 deadline has come and gone. Congress failed to actbefore the fund expired. Yet the vast support for LWCF continues, and here in Nevada, we urgeyou to work toward this program’s permanent reauthorization and full funding. Doing so willensure that our nation will continue to invest in the natural heritage, green spaces, parks, andtrails that make our communities whole, healthy and prosperous.