Conservation group launches $1M campaign to save public parks bill

Conservation group launches $1M campaign to save public parks bill
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A conservation group is launching a $1 million campaign to call on Congress to reauthorize a public parks bill set to expire this fall.

The Our Lands, Our Voice campaign announced Monday by the League of Conservation Voters (LCV) is part digital ad campaign and part grass-roots push. It's meant to pressure lawmakers to permanently reauthorize the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF), which is facilitated under the National Park Service and set to expire Sept. 30.

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The group is lobbying lawmakers to sponsor and pass a House bill that would permanently reauthorize the program. The LWCF was first established in 1964 as a means to provide grants to state and local governments and is used for management of public lands.

The campaign will specifically aim digital ads at Republican Reps. Keith Rothfus (Pa.), Vern Buchanan (Fla.), Steve Knight (Calif.) and Mimi Walters (Calif), who have not signed on to the bill.

In a letter to Congress on Friday, the LCV wrote: “For generations, people across the country have enjoyed, benefitted from, and worked to protect our nation’s lands and waters. Congress should not make it harder to protect and enhance these incredible places by drastically underfunding LWCF or allowing the program’s authorization to expire.”

Reauthorization of the bill has met opposition from a number of conservative groups who believe the federal government should be less involved in the ownership and operation of public lands, insisting the role should instead go to states.

Additionally, the fund is paid for through the revenues of offshore oil and gas drilling. Interior Secretary Ryan ZinkeRyan Keith ZinkeOil execs boasted of 'unprecedented access' to Trump officials: report Overnight Energy: Interior reverses decision at heart of Zinke criminal probe | Dem divisions deepen over approach to climate change | GM to add 400 workers to build electric cars Interior reverses decision at heart of Zinke criminal investigation MORE has proposed paying for the backlog in National Park infrastructure projects through the same sales.

The Trump administration’s recent budget proposal for fiscal 2019 slashes the LWCF by almost 90 percent. 

“With Republican leaders blocking bipartisan legislation to save LWCF and Secretary Zinke and the Trump administration taking an axe to our nation’s best parks program, we’ll be pushing harder than ever to make sure the places we love aren’t lost forever," LCV President Gene Karpinski said in a statement.