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Environmentalists Press To Keep National Conservation Fund

The Florida Scenic Trail
US Forest Service
The Florida Channel
Leon County Judge John Cooper on June 30, 2022, in a screen grab from The Florida Channel.

A national conservation fund that has been around for more than 50 years may not be around much longer. Environmental advocates from around the country - includling Florida - are pressuring Congress to renew the program.

The Land and Water Conservation Fund uses royalties from off-shore oil and gas leases to preserve tens of thousands of parks, wilderness areas and public lands. In Florida, it's raised an estimated $1 billion.

But it's scheduled to sunset at the end of September. Preston Robertson is with the Florida Wildlife Federation.

"Then they take that money and they spread it around the United States - including Florida, of course - and they put it to work for conservation projects," he said. "And there are little projects all over Florida that have benefitted from the Land and Water Conservation Fund."

He says one barrier to making the program permanent is the environment has become another tug of war between Republicans and Democrats.

"It's unfortunate to me that we don't see that we need to take environmental integrity and sustainability," he said. "We need to take that off the battlefield. We should all support that - not only for ourselves, but for our economy and our children."

Robertson says members of Congress are being lobbied to set aside their differences and to reauthorize the fund permanently.

Copyright 2018 WUSF Public Media - WUSF 89.7

Steve Newborn is WUSF's assistant news director as well as a reporter and producer at WUSF covering environmental issues and politics in the Tampa Bay area.