Each year the program collects about $900 million in offshore drilling royalties.
“The LWCF is the key tool that we use to help communities, to help the state, to help our nation preserve those recreation opportunities and to make the most cost-effective use of the land,” said Sen.
Cantwell is one of more than 20 co-sponsors of the
In Idaho the program has been used to acquire land or, more commonly, conservation easements at places such as the breaks of the lower
“It was always viewed as a win-win situation by just about everybody,” he said. “We were able to increase the ownership along the lower
For example, he said the purchase of land or conservation easements using program funds is done on a willing-seller basis only. In most cases, Grussing said his former agency purchased easements on ranches instead of acquiring the land outright.
“It’s just one of those things that worked as intended and basically even local politicians, for example, were very receptive to using those funds to both maintain the ranching industry and diversify a little bit by selling conservation rights to their property while continuing to be able to function as a profitable ranching business.”
Local communities have taken advantage of the fund as well via 50-50 matching grants. At
“Any community of any size probably has at least one Land and
The program has two main parts, one that funds grants to local governments through state grants and one that funds land and easement purchases by federal land management agencies.
“We are working with the (Idaho) congressional delegation and specifically Rep.
“There is hardly a city or small town or county in Idaho that has not benefitted from this in the form of ballfields, picnic shelters, rural parks or trails,” he said.
Cantwell’s bill and another in the House would permanently reauthorize the program.
“We want to see that reauthorized permanently and we think it deserves full funding. That is the promise that was made and it ought to be kept,” he said. — Barker may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or at (208) 848-2273. Follow him on Twitter @ezebarker.
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