Federal Funding Threatened in Proposed 2018 Budget
The Highlands Conservation Act is responsible for safeguarding many of the most valuable tracts along the corridor in southeast Pennsylvania. The foresight of those who championed the legislation has led to thousands of acres (PA tracts) being protected since its authorization in 2007. Some funding examples include:
- Jones Property 70.5 acres protected, 2007, $128,110
- Morning Property (Oley Hills) 139 acres protected, 2007, $246,375
- Kriebel Property (Oley Hills) 85 acres protected, 2007, $118,260
- Gehman Property (Oley Hills) 169 acres protected, 2008, $196,660
- Ruhle Property (Cooks Creek Watershed) 90.7 acres protected, 2009, $460,700
- Lindtner Property (Cooks Creek Watershed) 71 acres protected, 2009, $320,948
- Killian Woods and Condit property (Hopewell Big Woods) 283 acres protected, 2010, $984,124
- Pesaresi Tract (Musconetcong River and Mtn.) 24.3 acres protected, 2012, $155,456
- Valley Road Tract (Musconetcong River and Mtn.) 53 acres protected, $66,027
Despite these successes, there could be limitations to future protection. Currently, the HCA needs to be reauthorized and available funds may be zeroed out in upcoming budgets. The administration’s proposed budget for 2018 calls for sharp reductions in LWCF spending. (LWCF budget)
In contrast to the president’s funding proposal, Pennsylvania’s members of Congress have stood up to support the effort. In recent weeks Senator Bob Casey signed onto a ‘Dear Colleague’ letter in support of full funding for the LWCF, and Representative Matt Cartwright celebrated another LWCF success as funds were released for acquisition of land in the Cherry Valley National Wildlife Refuge.
The Appalachian Mountain Club (AMC) was pleased that Representative Patrick Meehan led an effort in the House to encourage colleagues to support sufficient appropriations from the LWCF, the revenues of which are derived from offshore oil and gas leases. In addition to Meehan, Representatives Costello, Boyle, Brady, Doyle, Evans, Fitzpatrick and Marino also signed the letter promoting future LWCF projects, demonstrating the bi-partisan support that exists for the conservation program.
LWCF funds have been utilized to protect local, state and federal resources throughout Pennsylvania. Federal examples include: Gettysburg National Military Park, Valley Forge National Historical Park, Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area and the Allegheny National Forest.
Most recently Rep. Meehan joined colleagues in decrying the FY18 budget proposal, noting the economic benefits, recreational opportunities and the value for sportsmen the LWCF continues to provide. AMC applauds Rep. Meehan and his colleagues for their efforts to protect this valuable and successful conservation funding mechanism.