Secretary Jewell, Congressman Hoyer Call for Full Funding of Landmark Recreation, Conservation Program at Maryland's Douglas Point

Secretary Jewell, Congressman Hoyer Call for Full Funding of Landmark Recreation, Conservation Program at Maryland's Douglas Point

Last edited 09/29/2021

CHARLES COUNTY, Md. – U.S. Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell and U.S. Congressman and Minority Whip Steny Hoyer joined together today to call on Congress to reauthorize and fully fund the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) as they joined state and local conservation leaders at the historic Chiles Homesite at Douglas Point. Jewell and Hoyer highlighted the benefits of the LWCF to support outdoor recreation opportunities and historical and archaeological preservation.

Overlooking the Potomac River, the Douglas Point area was created with support from the LWCF in 2001 and is cooperatively managed by Interior's Bureau of Land Management (BLM), the Maryland Department of Natural Resources and Charles County. The Nature Conservancy and The Conservation Fund have been important facilitators in land acquisition and transition.

Today's visit is part of a series of events over the last year to celebrate the success of the Land and Water Conservation Fund during its fiftieth anniversary. Secretary Jewell has joined state, city and federal representatives across the country to underscore the importance of the Fund as one of the nation's most effective tools for preserving and protecting rivers, lakes and other water resources; to expand the interpretation of historic and cultural sites; and to conserve natural landscapes for public outdoor recreation use and enjoyment.

“Thanks to Congressman Hoyer's many years of leadership, the state of Maryland and the Department of the Interior were able to partner together and permanently preserve one of the last undeveloped tracts along the Potomac River – important to both local history and natural heritage,” Jewell said. “Whether it's a scenic, historic tract like Douglas Point, a ball park or a hiking trail, each of these projects under the Land and Water Conservation fund play an important role in improving the health and vitality of people, especially in urban areas, as well as protecting natural areas and history for future generations of Americans to enjoy. Congress needs to fulfill the promise made fifty years ago to the American people by enacting full and permanent funding of the Land and Water Conservation Fund.”

Congress established the Land and Water Conservation Fund in 1964 to ensure access to outdoor recreation resources for present and future generations, and to provide money to federal, state and local governments to purchase land, water and wetlands for the benefit of all Americans. Congress later expanded the use of the Fund to include the acquisition of Civil War battlefields and, more recently, Revolutionary War and War of 1812 battlefields.

The Fund has reinvested a small portion of revenues from federal oil and gas leases on the Outer Continental Shelf in more than 40,000 local conservation and outdoor recreation projects that protect the nation's land, water and wildlife heritage. A 2012 study by the Outdoor Recreation Association found that in Maryland alone, hiking, boating, hunting, fishing and other outdoor recreation contributed $9.5 billion in consumer spending to the state and supported 85,000 jobs with $2.8 billion in wages and salaries.

Only once in the past 50 years has Congress appropriated funding at the full authorized level of $900 million. The program is set to expire this year without action from Congress. President Obama has proposed to fully and permanently fund the program.

“I was pleased to have Secretary Jewell, who has been an outstanding spokesperson for America's natural resources and a fighter for conservation, visit Douglas Point today,” said Congressman Hoyer. “Douglas Point has made important contributions to the history and natural splendor of our state, and I was proud to have secured funding to protect this site through the Land and Water Conservation Fund. I will continue to work in Congress to build support for the reauthorization of this important fund that expires this September.”

The BLM acquired the 548-acre Douglas Point area through the Land and Water Conservation Fund. The tract is part of a 1,921-acre public land region known as the Nanjemoy Natural Resources Management Area. The BLM, the state of Maryland, and Charles County co-manage the combined acres of state, county and federal lands.

“Over the past four decades, the Land and Water Conservation Fund has provided more than $200 million to Maryland,” said Department of Natural Resources Secretary Mark Belton. “This funding has allowed us to safeguard the future of some of the most unique and special landscapes anywhere, while accelerating bay restoration, expanding public access and inspiring stewardship among our citizens and visitors.”

“This remarkable area that combines cultural artifacts, natural sites and recreational opportunities demonstrates why Congress needs to reauthorize the Land and Water Conservation Fund and mandate permanent funding,” said Neil Kornze, Director of the BLM. “Without protection from development, magnificent hardwood forests and important artifacts would have been lost to history. Key conservation partnerships and funding from the Land and Water Conservation Fund have ensured that future generations of Marylanders will be able to enjoy this incredible place.”

The Douglas Point tract contains hardwood forests that support 20 of the 25 interior nesting Maryland birds. The area also contains historic sites, including evidence of Native American settlements dating back to before the 1600s and a Civil War encampment. The area is also one of the largest estuaries in country and home to a variety of terrestrial and aquatic species, including remains of prehistoric sharks, rays, crocodiles and turtles.

“The Chesapeake Bay region has a population approaching 18 million and climbing, and we're losing tens of thousands of acres of open space each year. We are literally racing against the tide. The Land and Water Conservation Fund is one of the most effective tools to conserve land and wildlife habitat along our great rivers for future generations,” said Joel Dunn, Chesapeake Conservancy President and CEO. “The Chesapeake Conservancy echoes the President's call to fully and permanently fund the Land and Water Conservation Fund. Our region's great natural legacy is at stake.”

Douglas Point provides great hiking opportunities and two water-based national trails along the shore of Potomac River, including the Captain John Smith Chesapeake National Historic Trail and the Star-Spangled Banner National Historic Trail.

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