government relations

Rep. Reichert Honored as a Conservation Champion

ROSLYN, WA. — The Nature Conservancy honored Rep. Dave Reichert (WA-08) with a Conservation Champion award for his leadership on behalf of the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF).

Mike Stevens, state director for The Nature Conservancy, presented the award in Roslyn on August 9th.

“Over the past decade, Rep. Reichert has stepped up again and again on behalf of conservation.  He has been a consistent champion for the Land and Water Conservation Fund and has fought for permanent reauthorization of this popular and successful program,” said Stevens. “We are grateful for his leadership, his strong voice articulating why parks and outdoor spaces are so important for people and families, and his efforts to bring people together in this cause.”

“The beauty of our region is one of Washington’s greatest assets and is a constant reminder of the importance of preserving our natural resources for the benefit of all Americans,” said Reichert. “The Nature Conservancy is doing great work across the country to keep our forests and landscapes pristine for future generations to enjoy.  It was an honor to receive their award recognizing my efforts in support of the critical Land and Water Conservation Fund, and I look forward to continuing our partnership in the future.”

The Land and Water Conservation Fund has a 50-year history of conserving iconic landscapes in every state and is responsible for more than 40,000 state and local outdoor recreation projects such as playgrounds, urban parks, refuges, and baseball fields. The Fund was recently renewed for three years, and conservation and recreation advocates are seeking long-term reauthorization of this program, which has invested over $600 million in Washington State alone in the past 50 years. The Nature Conservancy recently partnered with the U.S. Forest Service, using LWCF funds, to protect several parcels of land along the Pacific Crest Trail in Kittitas County.

Nationally, outdoor recreation, natural resource conservation, and historic preservation provide a minimum $1.7 trillion in economic impact in the U.S. and support 12.8 million jobs. (Southwick study, May 2013). In Washington, outdoor recreation generates $22.5 billion dollars in consumer spending and supports 227,000 jobs.

NO JOKE: COMPROMISE ON EASTERN WA WATER AND LANDS

NO JOKE: COMPROMISE ON EASTERN WA WATER AND LANDS

Last November, the Yakima Bill unanimously passed out of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee.  In April,  it was amended to the Senate Energy Policy Modernization Act of 2016 (also unanimously), which then passed out of the Senate by a vote of 85-12.   As the Yakima Herald Editorial Board put it, “the success of [the Yakima Bill] so far speaks to the collaboration of the various stakeholders and the bipartisan cooperation of the state’s congressional delegation.”  The Energy Bill now moves on to the House of Representatives, where Yakima Basin Representatives Reichert and Newhouse set the stage by introducing a companion Yakima Bill back in February.

Wildfires, Forest Health a Major Focus of 2016 Session

Wildfires, Forest Health a Major Focus of 2016 Session

With two back to back, record-breaking wildfire seasons with effects that linger well into the winter months, it is no surprise that wildfires and healthy forests are a major focus of the 2016 state legislature.

Federal Funding Bill Marks Progress for Land and Water Conservation

Federal Funding Bill Marks Progress for Land and Water Conservation

Congress has released its omnibus federal spending package, which sets funding levels for government agencies for Fiscal Year 2016. It also contains a number of conservation and environmental provisions that will affect America’s lands, waters, and wildlife, including a three-year reauthorization of the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) and funding that program at $450 million next year. The House and Senate are expected to vote on the bill later this week.  

Conservancy Speaks Up for Nature in Our Nation’s Capitol

From left to right: Federal Government Relations Director Cathy Baker, Board Member Bruce Nelson, Board Chair Byron Bishop, Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Spokane). Global Director of Public Policy for the Conservancy Lynn Scarlett, Washington State Director Mike Stevens.

From left to right: Federal Government Relations Director Cathy Baker, Board Member Bruce Nelson, Board Chair Byron Bishop, Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Spokane). Global Director of Public Policy for the Conservancy Lynn Scarlett, Washington State Director Mike Stevens.

This week, over 175 Conservancy trustees from across the country flew in to Washington, DC, to speak up for the Future of Nature.

From Washington State, Board Chair Byron Bishop, Bruce Nelson, and Scott Wyatt joined State Director Mike Stevens and Federal Government Relations Director Cathy Baker in meeting with the majority of our congressional delegation.

Advocating on Capitol Hill was both inspiring and a lot of hard work. Highlights included:

  • Our trustees sharing their stories about why the Conservancy meant so much to them
  • A moving speech by Congressman Mike Simpson (R-Idaho) about the Land and Water Conservation Fund and the gift we can give future generations
  • 80 degree weather in October
  • One legislative staffer commenting that if a wheat farmer and a tech worker both supported the Wildfire Disaster Funding Act, then it must be a good idea.
  • Joining former Bush administration deputy secretary of the Interior and Nature Conservancy Director of Public Policy Lynn Scarlett in a meeting on healthy forests

This week illustrated so clearly how much local voices matter to our elected officials. They truly care what their constituents think about public policy.

Don’t forget that your voice matters too! If you believe as we do that a healthy economy and a healthy environment are inextricably linked, take a moment to speak up for nature.  

Sen. Cantwell Honored as a Champion of Nature by The Nature Conservancy

Washington, DC-- The Nature Conservancy in Washington honored Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-WA) with its “Champion of Nature” award today.

Byron Bishop, chair of the Washington Board of Trustees, presented the award in person as he and other trustees and staff traveled to Capitol Hill to discuss several conservation issues currently facing Congress.

“Sen. Cantwell has consistently led the fight for the health and conservation of Washington’s lands and waters,” said Byron Bishop, chair of the Washington Chapter Board of Trustees. “We are so grateful for her visionary leadership, which has benefited the families and businesses of Washington and the entire country. She has been a consistent champion for the Land and Water Conservation Fund, and for restoring the health of our forests.”

Fifty years after the Land and Water Conservation Fund was created, it is still a national treasure and one of our most successful conservation laws. This program has provided countless opportunities for hunting, fishing and outdoor recreation – which supports millions of jobs nationwide. I remain committed to using every opportunity to permanently reauthorize and fully fund the LWCF.
— Sen. Cantwell, ranking member of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee.

While presenting the award, the Conservancy and some of its volunteer leaders from Washington noted the importance of lands and waters to their families and their businesses.

In the Capitol Hill meetings, representatives of Conservancy focused on actions Congress could take to help nature be a part of the solution to improve our nation’s economy, health and well-being. Specifically, they asked Congress to renew and fully fund the Land and Water Conservation Fund, which expired on September 30 after a successful 50-year history of conserving places in every state in the nation. They also focused on other ways to ensure sustainable funding for conservation programs and efforts to secure a cleaner and more secure energy future.

Nationally, outdoor recreation, natural resource conservation, and historic preservation provide a minimum $1.7 trillion in economic impact in the U.S. and support 12.8 million jobs. (Southwick study, May 2013) In Washington, outdoor recreation generates $22.5 billion dollars in consumer spending.

Nature Conservancy statement on expiration of Land and Water Conservation Fund

SEATTLE—Despite impassioned pleas from Senators on both sides of aisle, the country’s most successful conservation program expired at midnight Wednesday, Sept. 30, as Congress failed to reauthorized the Land and Water Conservation Fund.

Since 1965, this program, which uses a small percentage of revenue from offshore oil and gas drilling to invest in lands, water, recreation and working landscapes, has fundamentally shaped our state and country. It has brought more than $637 million in federal funding to every corner of our state, from the San Juan Islands to the Columbia River to the Turnbull Wildlife Refuge outside of Spokane. It also provides matching grants to help states and local communities protect parks and recreation resources. This program benefits everyone – hunters, anglers, backcountry horsemen, wildlife watchers, cyclists, soccer players, families, farmers and ranchers and those who just love living in Washington.

The failure to reauthorize the Land and Water Conservation Fund is a disappointment for every family and business in Washington who have come to rely on the clean water, recreational opportunities, wildlife habitat and quality of life that this 50-year-old conservation program affords.

Now it’s time for every Washingtonian to speak with one voice, in partnership with our own elected officials in Washington, D.C. who are championing the restoration of this essential program.
— Mike Stevens, Washington State Director for The Nature Conservancy.