“From the smallest to the largest of Latino communities, LWCF has been critical in providing all our nation’s diverse communities with what is often their main or only means to experience the outdoors,” said Maite Arce, president and CEO of Hispanic Access Foundation. “Whether it’s a local sports field, a community swimming pool or providing new trails, LWCF’s reach into our cities and towns is vital to the health and well-being of millions of Americans nationwide.”
The $495 million proposed for LWCF in Fiscal Year 2020 represents the highest appropriation for LWCF in the last 17 years. Over the program’s 54 years of operation, LWCF has protected more than 100 national battlefields and supported over 42,000 parks and recreation projects across the country, in addition to protecting more than 2.2 million acres of national parks. The program does not cost taxpayers a penny as it’s funded through royalties collected through offshore oil and gas drilling. However, Congress is responsible for allocating those royalties to the program and while its annual allocation is capped at a maximum of $900 million, Congress has only fully-funded twice within its history.
“We appreciate the support LWCF has received from many members of Congress, including the leadership of Sens. Tom Udall (D-NM) and Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), to increase the program’s funding,” said Arce. “However, we’re disappointed that Congress did not fully and permanently fund LWCF. The Senate and the House overwhelmingly supported the permanent reauthorization of LWCF earlier this year, which reflects how important this program is to local communities. It’s time we start funding it that way — LWCF needs permanent and dedicated full funding. This would ensure that LWCF dollars benefit communities all across America to its highest potential.”
The importance of LWCF cannot be overstated – it’s a critical tool that provides Latinos and underserved communities with access to the outdoors, it supports both outdoor recreation and tourism economies and helps protect cultural heritage and historically significant places critical to our nation’s diverse and shared history. Examples include El Camino Real de Tierra Adentro, a historic trade route between Mexico City and San Juan Pueblo, New Mexico, Roberto Clemente State Park, which not only honors the Puerto Rican baseball legend, but also provides New York’s Bronx with much needed community space, and Monroe Elementary School in Kansas, the school attended by Linda Brown of Brown v. Board of Education.
“The full, widespread impact LWCF has made on our communities all across this nation could never truly be measured or put into words,” said Arce. “But, seeing the connection Latinos have with these places only reinforces our work forward to ensure LWCF is fully and permanently funded. Not only so we can benefit today, but so that future generations will benefit tomorrow.”