Support LWCF funding bill

Land and Water Conservation Fund is important in preserving significant lands and bodies of water

Among the most important federal programs very few people have heard of is the Land and Water Conservation Fund. Ensuring it has enough money is the proverbial no-brainer.

Doing so will require action by Congress and approval by President Donald Trump, however. Lawmakers and the president should be urged — not just encouraged — to make it happen.

The LWCF conducts many projects and programs the name would suggest. It is important in preserving significant lands and bodies of water throughout our country. More than 2.37 million acres have been saved by the LWCF.

Another aspect of the LWCF may not be obvious to many Americans. It is well-known by most local government officials, however.

Funding from the LWCF goes to many local recreational needs, ranging from parks to public swimming pools.

In the past, Fort Dodge has received a handful of grants from this fund. The largest was a $125,000 award that helped pay for Expo Pool on North Seventh Street. That grant was awarded in 1981.

The pool was removed in 2014 when the new Rosedale Rapids aquatics center was built. The terms of the grant require the site to be kept in public use forever, which is why it hasn’t been made available for housing development.

The city also received $67,462 for Harlan and Hazel Rogers Sports Complex, about $42,000 for the former Sunkissed Meadows Golf Course and about $5,000 for Knollcrest Park.

Every county in the United States has received LWCF money, through more than 40,000 grants since 1965.

Yet, despite the LWCF’s critical importance, there was some doubt earlier this year that the initiative would continue to exist. That doubt was erased in a bill the president signed into law several weeks ago.

But now, the question of ensuring the agency is funded has come up. A bill sponsored by U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin, D-West Virginia, would resolve that. The measure, S 1081, woud guarantee the agency is authorized for $900 million in annual funding.

A bipartisan coalition of lawmakers is co-sponsoring Manchin’s bill. It should be approved by both the Senate and the House of Representatives as soon as possible, then sent to the president for his signature.

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