Soapbox

Another View: Let’s keep conservation fund’s true purpose

Whit Fosburgh
Whit Fosburgh

Will Coggin pronounced that the Land and Water Conservation Fund, one of the country’s most important tools for conserving fish and wildlife habitat, died when Congress failed to reauthorize it (“Give the states more say on conservation,” Viewpoints, Dec. 2).

While celebrating Rep. Rob Bishop’s proposed reforms, Coggin also attempts to cast doubt on the integrity of sportsmen groups such as the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership

that support reauthorization of the expired program in its intended form – as a fund dedicated to improving access to public lands, providing more opportunities for outdoor recreation and reinvesting in the environment without using taxpayer dollars.

Readers should know that Coggin writes from the Environmental Policy Alliance, a front group for lobbyists who are paid to roll back conservation and refuse to disclose their funding sources. The Theodore Roosevelt partnership is beholden to no funder. We support a reauthorization of the conservation fund that will enhance access to recreation on federal, state and local lands, as the program has done for half a century, because that’s what is good for fish, wildlife and America’s sportsmen.

Bishop and Coggin point to maintenance backlogs on federal public lands as justification for shifting money to the states and limiting federal land acquisition. But acquiring land parcels that connect isolated public lands actually reduces maintenance costs in the long term.

Moreover, maintenance backlogs are largely a symptom of Congress starving federal agencies of much-needed resources while focusing on bad ideas. The wholesale transfer of federal lands to the states is one such distraction.

Bishop’s plan would also reinvest a portion of funds in offshore oil and gas drilling, essentially diverting money from conservation and recreation to subsidize the industry. Make no mistake, what Bishop has proposed and what Coggin supports would end one of America’s great conservation successes.

Whit Fosburgh is president and CEO of the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership. He can be contacted at wfosburgh@trcp.org.

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