A new film screened in Albuquerque highlights the impact the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) has had on Latino and urban communities throughout the United States and emphasizes why Congress needs to permanently reauthorize the program before it expires at the end of September and why it should be fully funded. LWCF has supported more than 41,000 national, state and local parks and projects across the nation and its absence would have a significant impact on outdoor access and the conservation of public lands.
The film “Land, Water y Comunidad” profiles five LWCF sites from around the country, including Apodaca Park in Las Cruces, and explores the relationship diverse communities have with LWCF sites – what it means to them, how they enjoy them and the impact it would have if these lands were not available. The screening was followed by a panel discussion featuring both national and local experts.
“For many Latinos and other diverse urban communities, sites funded through the Land and Water Conservation Fund often provide their only means to experience the outdoors,” said Maite Arce, president and CEO of Hispanic Access Foundation. “From having places to connect with nature, spend time with family, enjoy outdoor recreation or explore their cultural heritage, LWCF isn’t just about protecting pieces of land or providing specific resources for development, it’s about the connection we have with these places and what they represent for each individual. These sites matter to people – and the loss of the program would be felt for generations to come.”
Since its passage in 1965, the Land and Water Conservation Fund has gone on to become one of the nation’s greatest tools for providing access to the outdoors and helping to preserve the lands and waters we love. It has supported more than 41,000 parks and projects nationwide and over 1,000 in New México. LWCF is funded through offshore oil and gas drilling royalties meaning that there has been no cost to taxpayers. However, while the fund is capped at $900 million a year, Congress must authorize the amount the fund receives annually. However, it has only been fully funded twice. Despite that, LWCF has been used to support some of América’s most iconic landscapes like Lincoln and Santa Fe National Forests, Rio Grande Wild & Scenic River, and Chaco Culture National Historical Park, numerous Civil War battlefields, historic sites like Monroe Elementary School in Kansas — the school attended by Linda Brown, of Brown v. Board of Education — and countless local community projects like swimming pools, trails, parks, playgrounds, and sports fields.
“More than 50 years ago, Congress created the fund as a bipartisan promise to safeguard this country’s natural areas, water resources cultural heritage and economies,” said Arce. “Now is the time for Congress to set aside politics again and stand up for the vast majority of Americans and all our diverse communities who agree that the Land and Water Conservation Fund is essential to protect the places we love and the way of life future generations deserve. It’s time for LWCF to be permanently reauthorized and fully funded.”
The full film “Land, Water y Comunidad” was released publicly las week. The New México segment is currently available at: www.HispanicAccess.org/LWCF or to view all segments:
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