Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Representative Peter Welch (D-Vt.) Wednesday announced $291,965 in Land and Water Conservation Fund grants to six communities across Vermont. The grants are awarded by the National Park Service and will be used to restore and grow parks and build community playgrounds.
In a joint statement, Leahy, Sanders and Welch said, "These grants are an investment in our communities and help ensure that Vermonters will have access to public reserves that are iconic of our Green Mountain State tradition of exquisite outdoor spaces and superb recreation. We were proud to support these grants and look forward to seeing these projects completed."
The grants will be used to rebuild community playgrounds, repair local swimming pools and add around 42 acres to existing parks. The grants were awarded through the National Park Service's Land and Water Conservation Fund State and Local Assistance Program, which provides matching federal grants for local and state park projects outside national park boundaries. Support from the Land and Water Conservation Fund is separate from the National Park Service operational appropriations and the Fund is primarily supported through offshore oil lease revenue.
VT Forests, Parks and Recreation Commissioner Michael Snyder said, "We are fortunate to be able to add these important projects to the long list of successful Vermont recreation investments made with LWCF funding since its inception in 1965. With outdoor recreation being a cornerstone of Vermont's culture and economy, it is critical to continue to have access to this valuable program."
Leahy is the senior-most member of the Senate Appropriations Committee and serves on its Subcommittee on Interior, Environment and Related Agencies, which controls the funding to the National Park Service. Leahy has long been a strong advocate for the Land and Water Conservation Fund and is considered the "father" of its Forest Legacy Program. He has been working with others in Congress to secure a permanent authorization, as well as full funding, for the Land and Water Conservation Fund.