For Immediate Release
Kelley Beamer, Executive Director
Coalition of Oregon Land Trusts
503.719.4732 | email@example.com
Portland, OR (August 12, 2015) – Congress has just 50 days to reauthorize the nation’s most important conservation tool, the Land and Water Conservation Fund, which for 50 years has been working to conserve lands for people and wildlife. In Oregon, the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) has conserved everything from working private farms and forests to local playgrounds to national treasures including the Pacific Crest Trail, Columbia River Gorge, John Day Fossil Beds, and Mount Hood.
“We cannot let the Land and Water Conservation Fund expire. Most people don’t know it, but nearly all of us in Oregon have visited a special place that was enhanced or made possible by the Land and Water Conservation Fund. There are many community-supported, land trust projects that have been waiting for LWCF funding for years but will never get it if Congress fails to reauthorize LWCF,” said Kelley Beamer, executive director for the Coalition of Oregon Land Trusts (COLT).
From the Columbia River corridor to our coastal wildlife refuges, land trusts work with local communities to protect water quality and wildlife habitat, preserve open lands, maintain working farms, and retain social and economic values that make Oregon special. Collectively, COLT’s 20 member land trusts have permanently conserved more than 300,000 acres of important private conservation lands that provide clear public benefits across the state.
“The Land and Water Conservation Fund is a critical tool for organizations like ours to protect thousands of acres throughout Oregon for important public values like recreation and clean water,” said Kathleen Ackley, executive director of the Wallowa Land Trust. Wallowa Land Trust is competing for LWCF funds to preserve the east moraine of Wallowa Lake for recreation, forestry, grazing, and scenery. Other land trust projects in Oregon awaiting LWCF funds include a world-class, round-trip trail network in the Columbia River Gorge, and Pathways to the Pacific to protect watersheds and valuable wildlife corridors in the Columbia Basin.
With enactment of LWCF 50 years ago, Congress made a promise to the American people to reinvest a small portion of proceeds from offshore oil and gas drilling into something of lasting value for all Americans — the conservation of our nation’s natural, recreational and cultural resources. This vital program is essential for the conservation of these national treasures, which are a defining aspect of our country’s heritage, values and national character.
“Senators Wyden and Merkley have been strong champions on conservation, and they continue to work to reauthorize the Land and Water Conservation Fund in the 50 days that are left before it expires. LWCF makes a lot of sense not only for our public lands, but also for local economies,” Beamer said.
LWCF supports local economies by creating and enhancing parks and other public lands, which promotes access to the outdoors and supports the outdoor recreation economy. LWCF benefits children by helping create and enhance local playgrounds, ballfields and nature areas, and by preserving healthy lands and clean water for the future. And an LWCF program called Forest Legacy allows working farms, forests and ranches to continue production in a time of significant subdivision and development.
In Oregon, LWCF has invested $263 million to conserve some of our state’s most defining areas such as the Hells Canyon, Smith Rock State Park, Klamath National Wildlife Refuge, Cascade Siskiyou National Monument, Rogue River Wild and Scenic River, Lewis and Clark National Historic Park, and many more. Interactive maps and data are available to demonstrate the impact of LWCF statewide and locally.
The clock is ticking. Without LWCF, irreplaceable lands that await LWCF funding will be sold, developed, and lost to the public, forever.
Coalition of Oregon Land Trusts: http://oregonlandtrusts.org/
Contact: Kelley Beamer, Executive Director (503) 719-4732 | firstname.lastname@example.org
The Coalition of Oregon Land Trusts (COLT) is the state association of land trusts in Oregon, made up of 20 nonprofit land trusts serving communities around the state. COLT focuses on improving and advancing land conservation in the state through increased land trust capacity and coverage, engagement of stakeholders, defending and developing new and larger sources of funding, and supportive policies. It represents the land trust community and provides leadership on important initiatives in public policy advocacy, policy implementation decisions, and outreach to public and private stakeholders
PDF version of this press release.