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Friday, January 18 , 2019, 8:37 am | Fair 52º

 
 
 
 

Federal Funding for Local Parks, Forests Could Expire Sept. 30

A popular 1965 law that has provided critical funding for at least 20 parks and reserves in Santa Barbara County is set to expire at the end of this week.

Congress is currently debating whether to reauthorize the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) and does not appear poised to consider legislation to extend it before the law’s Sept. 30 expiration date.

The LWCF is one of America’s most important public land conservation programs, supporting more than 41,000 parks and projects across the country.

In Santa Barbara County, the LWCF has supported 28 projects including the acquisition, expansion, and maintenance of iconic parks like Channel Islands National Park, Shoreline Park, Dwight Murphy Field, Leadbetter Beach, Carpinteria State Beach, Carpinteria Bluffs Nature Preserve, Goleta Fishing Pier, Beattie Park in Lompoc, Adam Park and Waller Park in Santa Maria, and Sunny Fields Park in Solvang.

“The LWCF supports critical programs that help underserved and urban communities get outside to hike, camp, fish, play sports, enjoy time with their families, and enhance their cultural heritage,” said Graciela Cabello, director of youth and community engagement at Los Padres ForestWatch.

“Allowing this fund to expire will effectively block access to outdoor recreation for generations,” she said.
 
The LWCF receives near-universal public support. Throughout its 53-year history, the LWCF has helped communities and state agencies acquire or gain access to nearly seven million acres of land for public use and recreation, from urban parks to remote wilderness preserves.

It is primarily funded through offshore oil and gas revenue and matching grants which federal, state, and local governments use to buy land, water, and easements for the benefit of all Americans. If the bill is not reauthorized, the revenue will be appropriated by the general treasury.

Projects that already have secured funding would continue, but future projects such as new parks and trails, playground and picnic area construction and maintenance, beach and fishing access would be jeopardized.

“Many of our national monuments, wildlife preserves, and parks owe their existence to the LWCF,” said Rebecca August, public lands advocate for Los Padres ForestWatch.

“If Congress does not renew the act, we will lose a critical tool to build upon our region’s rich heritage of public lands, and over time we risk degrading proper maintenance, protection, and access to our parks and open spaces,” she said.

“Trails will erode or become overgrown, campsites, park facilities, and roads and bridges will fall into disrepair, all of which make our parks and wild places less safe and accessible to the public,” she said.

ForestWatch provides an easy online tool for local residents to send a letter to their Congress member at LPFW.org/LWCF.

Following is a list of parks improved by LWCF-funded projects in Santa Barbara County; an interactive map can be viewed on the ForestWatch website.

LWCF-Funded Parks in Santa Barbara County

Carpinteria

Carpinteria Bluffs Nature Preserve
Carpinteria State Beach
Toro Canyon Park

Lompoc

Beattie Park

Goleta

Goleta Fishing Pier
Goleta Slough
Lake Los Carneros
 
Santa Barbara

Andre Clark Bird Refuge
Arroyo Burro Beach County Park
County Lifeguard Tower
Dwight Murphy Field
East Beach Pavilion
Leadbetter Beach
Shoreline Park
Stevens Park
West Beach

Santa Maria

Adam Park
Santa Maria River Nature Trail
Waller Lake

Solvang

Sunny Fields Park
 
— Graciela Cabello for Land and Water Conservation Fund.

 

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