SCHUMER URGES SENATE TO PERMANENTLY REAUTHORIZE & FULLY FUND THE LAND AND WATER CONSERVATION FUND TO PROTECT NY TREASURES LIKE PEACOCK PARK IN ESSEX COUNTY AND CONTINUE INVESTING IN CONSERVATION
The Land And Water Conservation Fund, Which Protects Our Public Lands For Conservation And Recreation, Helps State And Local Communities Build Parks And Recreation Facilities & Invests In Voluntary Conservation On Private Lands, Expired For The First Time In Its 50-Year History
Schumer: Congress Must Reauthorize & Fully Fund Upstate’s Primary Source Of Conservation And Recreation Funding
Standing at Peacock Park in Lake Placid, U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer today called on his colleagues to immediately reauthorize and fully fund The Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF). Schumer said the LWCF provides critical funding that protects natural areas, water resources, and historical sites in Upstate New York. In addition, Schumer said jeopardizing these critical funds threatens both conservation and recreation projects that generate a significant amount of economic activity for communities across the Adirondacks. Schumer said this program has supported over 10 important conservation projects in Essex County, totaling over $4 million in funding.
“For five decades, the Land and Water Conservation Fund has provided millions in federal funding for dozens of parks in the North Country and across Upstate New York. In the process, it has preserved hundreds of acres of parks, generated billions in economic activity, and created over 300,000 jobs in New York State. Peacock Park right here in Lake Placid is a shining example of the good this program can do. That’s why it is completely unacceptable Congress failed to reauthorize this critical program, which is now putting parks, economic development and conservation efforts in jeopardy,” said Schumer. “I am urging my colleagues to reauthorize this program right away, so residents and visitors alike can enjoy sites like this, across New York and the nation, for another 50 years.”
Schumer explained that the LWCF protects public lands for conservation and recreation, helps state and local communities build parks and recreation facilities, and invests in voluntary conservation on private lands. It has been used to fund projects in every single county in the U.S., including many across New York State. In fact, there have been over a dozen projects that were funded in Essex County over the last 50 years. Schumer highlighted Peacock Park – where he stood today – as a prime example of the recreational improvements that can be made with this kind of funding and the economic development opportunities that can be generated. In 2001, for example, the Village of Lake Placid received $37,845 in funding that allowed it to revamp Peacock Park, including the installation of new picnic areas, the creation of new sports and playfields, as well as the landscaping needed for the park’s support facility.
Schumer also cited other projects in Essex County that have benefited from the LWCF, as evidence that these kinds of projects deserve to be funded. Schumer said Congress should reauthorize and fully fund this critical program that allows the federal government to fund the types of park and conservation improvements that have taken place in areas like Lake Placid, which have been proven to benefit communities across Upstate New York and the nation. The Village of Ticonderoga, for example, used more than $170,000 in federal funds when the program first started to improve local sports and playfields, in addition to acquisitioning 52 acres of land, by donation, for other conservation efforts. Most recently, the Town of Schroon used more than $18,000 in federal LWCF funds to improve its fishing pier, which was in dire need of repair, as well as make it handicap accessible. This project greatly helped improve the town, whose main industry is tourism, and whose commercial area includes multiple business composed of sporting goods and fishing supplies stores.
Because the LWCF gives Americans across the country an opportunity to enjoy outdoor recreation, Schumer said it is unacceptable that Congress let this critical program expire, for the first time in its 50-year history, on September 30. According to the Outdoor Recreation Association, outdoor recreation projects and sites have generated approximately $33.8 billion in consumer spending and provided 305,000 jobs throughout New York State alone. Schumer said that, for decades, the LWCF has provided millions of dollars for Upstate New York projects, which has helped fuel the state’s vibrant recreational- and tourism-based North Country economy. This failure of Congress to reauthorize the LWCF has left many of these projects in jeopardy. Schumer said if the fund is not reauthorized, many communities could suffer and, therefore, be unable to develop and complete recreational projects like the one in Lake Placid. In addition to contributing to the economy, the LWCF is critical to providing hunters, anglers and hikers throughout the North Country with better access to lands and recreation areas that are permitted for sportsmanship activities.
Schumer said the expiration of the LWCF program also has real consequences for the economy. For 50 years, the LWCF has provided $3.9 billion to states for over 40,000 local projects. New York State in particular has received nearly $319 million throughout the history of the LWCF, including more than $7.5 for the North Country alone. Essex County received approximately $4,593,586 for 13 projects between 1972 and 2004, including the nearly $38,000 to develop the picnic areas, fields and support facilities at Peacock Park. As a result, Schumer said given the tremendous economic output and jobs created by the LWCF over the years, Congress should reauthorize this fund without further delay. The LWCF’s role in supporting current recreational sites and creating new projects would be effectively ended if the fund is not reauthorized by Congress. Therefore, Schumer is urging his colleagues in Congress to reauthorize the LWCF immediately before local recreational projects and facilities are put at risk. Schumer also noted that the LWCF is not paid for with taxpayer dollars. Instead, it is funded with receipts from offshore oil and gas development companies. In addition, acquisitions and conservation land donations are voluntary or completed with only willing sellers.
Schumer was joined by Robi Politi, Supervisor of the Town of North Elba, Willie Janeway, Executive Director of the Adirondack Council, James McKenna, CEO of ROOST, Garry Douglas, President of the Plattsburgh-North Country Chamber of Commerce, and Ted Blazer, President of the Olympic Regional Development Authority.
“Investments in America's public lands through the Land and Water Conservation Fund touch the lives of the 142 million people who recreate outside each year and the 305,000 jobs in New York State supported by the outdoor recreation industry,” said Amy Roberts, Executive Director of Outdoor Industry Association. “We are proud of the $34 billion outdoor recreation economy in New York and are grateful for the work of Senator Schumer in trying to save this critical program.”
“Senator Schumer is working harder than anyone to secure congressional reauthorization of the Federal Land and Water Conservation Fund,” said Adirondack Council Executive Director William C. “Willie” Janeway. “For fifty years this successful self-funded program supported wilderness, historical and community park projects in the nationally unique Adirondacks. Washington politics should not kill a valuable, popular and bipartisan program, and we applaud Senator Schumer for leading the charge to secure reauthorization.”
“The Trust for Public Land applauds Senator Schumer's great support for the Land & Water Conservation Fund, and his leadership in pressing to reauthorize LWCF, to secure the funding it needs, and specifically to ensure our cities and communities can fully participate. Given the critical need for parks in New York, the role of open space in light of increasingly dramatic and cataclysmic storm events, and the vital watersheds that provide drinking water to millions of New Yorkers, LWCF could not be more important. Bravo Senator Schumer--and thank you for your critical support of the LWCF,” said Marc Matsil, NY State Director of the Trust for Public Land.
“LWCF is an irreplaceable source of federal funding for the parks and open spaces that we all need — and Congress never should have let it expire. Senator Schumer is fighting to reauthorize and fully fund this essential program, and we appreciate his leadership on behalf of all of us in New York and across the country, and all the places still to be protected,” said Kim Elliman, CEO of Open Space Institute