A rugged, whitewater river flowing northward through deep canyons, the New River is among the oldest rivers on the continent. New River Gorge National River in West Virginia encompasses over 70,000 acres of land along the New River, is rich in cultural and natural history, and offers an abundance of scenic and recreational opportunities.
Big Southern Butte is one of two domes rising from a sea of basalt near the center of the eastern Snake River Plain in Idaho. The butte is one of the largest volcanic domes in the world, but at 300,000 years old it is also one of the youngest. Hikers who trek to the 7,550-foot high summit are rewarded with spectacular panoramic views. Photo by Devin Englestead, BLM Upper Snake Wildlife Biologist.
First light at Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge in New Mexico. Established in November 22, 1939, the refuge has provided a critical stopover and wintering spot for thousands of sandhill cranes, geese and other waterfowl for 75 years. Bosque del Apache's sandhill crane population has multiplied from 18 birds in the 1840s to more than 20,000 birds today. Photo by Kim Hang Dessoliers (www.sharetheexperience.org).
State Land and Water Conservation Fund Creates or Enhances Nearly 200 Parks across Country in 2011, New Report Shows
$33.3 million derived from oil and gas leases revenue helps states permanently protect 33,000 acres of parkland
WASHINGTON -- Revenue from leases for offshore oil and gas development in federal waters helped states build or improve 198 parks across the country in 2011, ranging from establishing a new park on Texas' most pristine river, to protecting and providing public access to prehistoric petroglyphs in Wyoming to building a new wheelchair-accessible playground in Indiana, according to a new report issued by the Interior Department's National Park Service.
Under the Land and Water Conservation Fund State and Local Assistance Program, the Park Service awarded $33.3 million in grants to states to help communities invest in new parks or renovate or expand existing parks. States, local communities, and other partners exceeded the required dollar-for-dollar match by providing $43.9 million to complete the projects.
“The Land and Water Conservation Fund today is helping us meet the goals of President Obama's America's Great Outdoors initiative to foster a 21st century vision for conservation and outdoor recreation,” Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar said. “We are working in partnership with communities across America to use the revenues from the energy resources we take out of the ground to build a lasting legacy of parks, trails and open spaces.”
“The Land and Water Conservation Fund State and Local Assistance Program powers a federal-state partnership that benefits communities and strengthens our economy,” said National Park Service Director Jonathan B. Jarvis. “Thanks to these grants, we are connecting Americans with the great outdoors by providing quality recreational opportunities that are close to home, open to the public, and accessible to all.”
Through the fund, a portion of the revenue derived from oil development of federal lands is shared with local communities to provide recreational opportunities for the public. The grants must be matched by partners at least a dollar-for-dollar.
Projects that received funds in 2011 included:
The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department acquired 17, 639 acres of Devils River Ranch at the confluence of the Devils River and Amistad Reservoir. A $1.33 million grant helped the state protect at total of 37,000 acres, including 24 river miles. Recreational opportunities range from remote wilderness activities to “family-friendly” river access for fishing, hunting and paddling.
At Legend Rocks State Historical Site in Wyoming, the state was able to rally private citizens, tribes, and other partners to protect 300 prehistoric petroglyphs, including some of the oldest and best examples of Dinwoody rock art in the world, while improving public access.
The City of Fort Wayne used development grant to help fund a special playground that allows children of all abilities to explore and let their imaginations take flight. Beyond planning for wheelchair access, the city included features that considered physical, visual and mental accessibility.
The full report is available at www.nps.gov/lwcf, along with additional information about the program.