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The Open Space Institute Stands with Senator Schumer as He Calls on Senate to #SaveLWCF

Schumer: Congress Must Reauthorize & Fully Fund Upstate’s Primary Source of Conservation and Recreation Funding

CATSKILL, New York – The Open Space Institute and other conservation organizations joined U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer as he stood at the Catskill Creek, and called on the Senate to permanently reauthorize and fully fund the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF).  Noting that LWCF provides critical funding that protects natural areas, water resources, and historical sites, Senator Schumer said the expiration of LWCF threatens conservation efforts and the outdoor recreational economy in Greene County and across the nation.

The Land and Water Conservation Fund 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. The LWCF has been used to fund projects in every single county in the U.S., including many across New York State.

“For more than five decades, the Land and Water Conservation Fund has provided millions in federal funding for dozens of parks in the Catskills and across Upstate New York. In the process, it has contributed to preserving hundreds of acres of parks, generating billions in economic activity, and helping create over 300,000 jobs in the outdoor economy of New York State. The Village of Catskill has ambitious plans to reconnect to its waterfront and improve recreational access along its shores. LWCF would be a perfect source for the Village to apply for federal funding to help make their plans a reality. That’s why it is completely unacceptable that Congress allowed the authorization for this critical program to lapse, which is now putting parks, economic development and conservation efforts in jeopardy,” said Senator Schumer. “I am urging my colleagues to reauthorize and fully fund this program right away, so residents and visitors alike can continue to enjoy sites like this, across New York and the nation for years to come.”

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Senator Chuck Schumer (left) with the Senior Vice President of the Open Space Institute Erik Kulleseid.
Image Credit: Maria Garcia

"Over its 50-year history, LWCF has improved recreational facilities and conserved land in virtually every community in New York, but funding has fallen short for decades. We thank Senator Schumer for his deep commitment to expanding public access to places like the Catskill waterfront, and his efforts to secure the permanent reauthorization and dedicated full funding for LWCF that New Yorkers deserve to meet critical conservation and recreation needs into the future," said Erik Kulleseid, Senior Vice President, Open Space Institute.

Multiple projects have been funded by the LWCF in Greene County over the last 50 years. The largest investment from the LWCF in Greene County has been at the North-South Lake Recreation Area. Within this park, the LWCF funded the creation of both day-use and camping areas. Additionally, the LWCF also helped fund the Long Path, which begins at Thacher State Park in Voorheesville and extends for 358 miles through the Catskills to where it ends at the 175th St. subway station in New York City.

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 only the second time in its more than 50-year history, on September 30.

According to the Outdoor Recreation Association, outdoor recreation projects and sites annually generate approximately $41.8 billion in consumer spending and provide 313,000 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 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 efforts that Catskill envisions. In addition to contributing to the economy, the LWCF is critical to providing hunters, anglers and hikers throughout Upstate New York 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 more than 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 $336 million throughout the history of the LWCF. As a result, Schumer said given the tremendous economic output and jobs created by the LWCF over the years, Congress should permanently reauthorize and fully fund this program without further delay. The LWCF’s role in supporting current recreational sites and creating new projects has been threatened since it was 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. In addition, acquisitions and conservation land donations are voluntary or completed with only willing sellers.

“From Niagara Falls and Montauk Point to the Adirondacks and Jamaica Bay, the Land and Water Conservation Fund has helped conserve hundreds of natural treasures that are among the reasons why millions of Americans love New York. The program has allowed every single one of the Empire State’s 62 counties to build critical recreational amenities and protected vital natural resources. We could not be prouder to work with champions like Leader Schumer to restart the Land and Water Conservation Fund and ensure that it’s permanently funded,” said Collin O’Mara, president and CEO of the National Wildlife Federation (and Syracuse native).

“Local communities, just like Catskill, NY, often benefit the most from our great outdoors and the recreational and natural values they hold. It’s the Land and Water Conservation Fund that has time and again unlocked these benefits, by conserving special places and providing recreational access to these wonderful gems,” said Jamie Williams, President of The Wilderness Society. “The Wilderness Society joins Senator Schumer in calling for quick reauthorization and stable funding for the LWCF, and we laud Senator Schumer for his bold and steadfast leadership in protecting our parks, outdoors and the communities that love them.”

“The Land and Water Conservation Fund is an American success story — supporting outdoor recreation, habitat and infrastructure projects from the backyard to the backcountry,” said Amy Roberts, Executive Director of Outdoor Industry Association. “Congress owes it to communities from Catskill, New York to Whitefish, Montana and everywhere in between to reauthorize LWCF by the end of the year and continue to bolster the $887 billion industry."

“For over 50 years, the Land and Water Conservation Fund has kept New York State beaches, bays, and parks open, clean, and safe. But on September 30th, this program expired. We stand with Senator Schumer and call on congress to act now by fully funding and permanently reauthorizing the Land and Water Conservation Fund,” said NYLCV President Julie Tighe.

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