TCPalm: Congress must reauthorize Land, Water Conservation Fund | Guest column

Article Posted on September 11, 2018

By: George Jones

If you enjoyed a park on Labor Day weekend, odds are the Land & Water Conservation Fund helped fund its acquisition or pay for amenities such as boat ramps and ball fields.

From iconic national parks such as Biscayne and the Everglades to places in our own backyard, such as Pelican Island National Wildlife Refuge and Sandsprit Park in Stuart, the fund has protected the outdoor places we love in South Florida and across the country for more than 50 years.

It is arguably our nation’s most important conservation and recreation program.

Unfortunately, the Land & Water Conservation Fund is set to expire unless Congress takes immediate action to save it. Voters in Florida’s 18th District are relying on U.S. Rep. Brian Mast, R-Palm City, and his colleagues to protect the fund so that all Americans will continue to enjoy high-quality recreation in Florida’s world-class landscapes and waterways for generations to come.

As an avid diver and angler who spent more than three decades working at the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, I have both recreated at and managed public lands made possible by the Land & Water Conservation Fund. Whether purchasing unique recreational areas for places to hike, bike and enjoy natural Florida or funding boat ramps that provide boating access to the lagoon, the fund has had a massive, positive impact on local communities throughout the Treasure Coast region.

Importantly, we’ve received all these benefits without the expenditure of federal tax dollars.

Since the act was authorized in 1965, the conservation fund has been buying and improving sensitive lands and access points with a small percentage of the royalties from offshore oil exploration. The fund matches local investments dollar for dollar…

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