Mark Udall joined a bipartisan effort today to reauthorize and fully fund the Land and Water Conservation Fund. The Land and Water Conservation Authorization and Funding Act of 2013 does not raise taxes nor does it increase the deficit. The legislation uses a portion of the proceeds from off-shore oil and gas production to support state and federal land management agencies and help purchase land for conservation from willing sellers.
The proposal also would set aside a portion of the fund to be used to improve access to federal lands -- a provision designed to support sportsmen and Colorado's outdoor recreation economy.
"The Land and Water Conservation Fund is an important tool for protecting public lands and ensuring access to them across the country. These issues, access and conservation, are critical for Colorado's outdoor-recreation industry and the thousands of jobs it supports," Udall said. "This bipartisan, common-sense legislation will ensure that we maintain our quality of life in Colorado and support jobs tied to clean air and water. I look forward to working with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle and Colorado's conservationists and sportsmen to pass this legislation."
Fifty years ago today, President John F. Kennedy sent a request to Congress requesting the establishment of a fund to protect recreational resources across the country. The Land and Water Conservation Fund was created the next year and several years later a small portion of the royalties from oil and gas drilling in federal waters were directed toward conservation. As a result, the Land and Water Conservation Fund has helped to preserve land in Grand Canyon National Park and along the Appalachian National Scenic Trail and to create Colorado's Great Sand Dunes National Park.
But the Land and Water Conservation Fund has rarely been funded at the level that was originally intended. Since 1967, more than $17 billion from revenues designated for the fund has been diverted and used for non-conservation purposes.
Udall has been a strong supporter of fully funding the Land and Water Conservation Fund. Udall also has been an outspoken advocate of the vital role public lands play in Colorado and the West in creating jobs and supporting economic growth.