Rep. McKinley Seeks More Funding for Area Parks and Recreation

Washington, D.C. —Today, Rep. David B. McKinley, P.E. (R-WV), along with Reps. Gene Green (D-TX), Cynthia Lummis (R-WY), and Alan Lowenthal (D-CA), introduced a bill to change the funding formula for the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF).

“Several parks and recreational facilities in West Virginia I’ve met with expressed concern about the current funding formula for the Land and Water Conservation Fund and how it’s distributed to state and local governments,” said Rep. McKinley. “The current method of funding is not fair. This legislation would make more funds available, directs money away from the original purpose and evens the playing field for the many beautiful parks West Virginia has to offer, such Oglebay Park, Canaan Valley Resort, Blackwater Falls, and others around the Mountain State.”

Congress created the LWCF to meet the nation’s growing need for access to outdoor recreation. The money for the fund comes not from taxes, but primarily from oil and gas lease revenues derived from federal lands. This helps balance the impacts associated with resource extraction by ensuring that new parks and open spaces are accessible to all Americans. This legislation (H.R. 2727) guarantees a minimum of 40 percent of total LWCF appropriations will go to the State Assistance Program, resulting in job growth that will stimulate the economy.

“There was a time when 60 percent of all LWCF funds were passed-on to states,” said Rep. Lummis. “Today, states are forced to accept table scraps while the bulk of federal dollars are set aside to buy-up land, usually in the West. I firmly believe in the states’ ability to make the best decisions on spending LWCF dollars for the good of their citizens. Wyoming is a great example of a state that has stretched its tiny sum to do great things. A little parity in this program will ensure that all parties receive a fair allotment.”

“The new proposed funding formula for the Land and Water Conservation Fund will guarantee a baseline percentage of Federal funding is spent on State and local parks, including Long Beach’s own Cesar Chavez Park,” said Rep. Lowenthal. “This legislation is critical to adding and improving outdoor public spaces in urban, suburban and rural areas and increasing the quality of life for all. This is a bill for families, for children, and for all who enjoy their local parks. I am eager to work with my colleagues on the Natural Resources Committee to move this bill forward.”

“I'm proud to be a cosponsor of this bill that would direct more land and water conservation funding to state and local governments,” added Rep. Green. “As state and local governments continue to deal with budget issues, the federal government should honor the original intent of the LWCF and direct an appropriate amount of these funds to the states and entities.”

“The LWCF State Assistance Program assists rural and urban communities in increasing the number of safe and accessible places for young people to play outside, which is a critical need, particularly in underserved communities that we serve through our Soccer for Success program,” said Ed Foster-Simeon, President and CEO of the U.S. Soccer Foundation. “In fact, the State Assistance Program has supported the development of more than 7,000 public soccer fields over the past four decades.”

“The LWCF State Assistance Program is the only federal program dedicated to ensuring that Americans have access to local outdoor recreation opportunities,” says Barbara Tulipane, President and CEO of the National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA). “The neighborhood park down the street, open and accessible, and without an admission fee, is the most important public space for average Americans. Placing the State Assistance Program on a level playing field will enable the LWCF to fulfill its stated mission of helping preserve, develop and assure access to outdoor recreation facilities for the purpose of strengthening the health of U.S. citizens.”