U.S. Department of the Interior
|Office of the Secretary||
|FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Jan. 31, 2003||
Secretary Norton Announces $160 Million in State
Grants from Land and Water Conservation Fund
WASHINGTON-- President Bush's proposed budget for FY 2004 calls for Interior to distribute $160 million in park and recreational grants to the 50 states, Secretary Norton told Western leaders today.
"These grants from the Land and Water Conservation Fund would be the largest amounts distributed to the states under this program in more than 20 years," Norton said in a telephone conference with the governors of several Western states. "The allocations can help state and local governments--many facing budget shortfalls--invest in recreational projects so that all Americans will have access to close-to-home parks and open spaces."
The FY 2004 state grant apportionment is a $16 million increase above the 2002 level enacted by the Congress and a $10 million increase above the President's proposed FY 2003 allocations. The grants, which also go to the District of Columbia and the U.S. territories, are funded from the Land and Water Conservation Fund, which the President's budget would fully fund at $900 million.
The state grant program is a cornerstone of the Secretary's commitment to involve state governments in conservation planning activities. The states are responsible for analyzing their recreational needs and setting priorities for funding, supervising the selection of projects, and the work, and ensuring compliance with federal guidelines.
"Local decision making is a key to this program and a priority with this Administration," Secretary Norton noted. "The President is keeping his commitment to help states and local governments make the decisions that affect their daily lives."
The proposed FY 2004 grants, which are apportioned largely on population, include $13.5 million for California, $8.2 million for Texas, $8 million for New York, and $6.8 million for Florida. Most states receive more than $2 million each on average.
The Land and Water Conservation Fund has provided more than $3.4 billion to state and local governments since it was founded in 1965. These governments are required to match their grant 50/50, which has doubled the nationwide investment to more than $6.8 billion. More than 38,000 projects have received funding and about 10,000 of those have added 2.3 million acres of state and local park land.
The National Park Service, which manages the fund, evaluates and approves grants and oversees project compliance and completion. The grants help states develop and maintain high quality recreation areas and stimulate non-federal investments in the protection and maintenance of recreation resources across the United States. Through the program, states have invested in outdoor recreation planning, established and expanded their own scenic rivers and trails, and encouraged their cities and counties to improve planning and development of recreation resources.
During the past two decades, funding for state grants from the Land and Water Conservation Fund averaged less than $32 million a year. Congress did not appropriate funds for state grants from 1996 through 1999. President Bush promised to fully fund the Land and Water Conservation Fund at $900 million and has proposed full funding in each of his budget requests. Outer Continen-tal Shelf oil and gas leasing is the primary source of revenue for the fund.
Other LWCF Funded Conservation Efforts
Under the President's proposal, the Land and Water Conservation Fund would also provide $187.2 for federal land acquisition in Interior and the USDA Forest Service, $515.7 million for other conservation and recreation programs that advance the LWCF goals, and $37.8 million for the USDA Forest Service Urban and Community forestry program.
The innovative conservation programs include state and tribal wildlife grants, endangered species and wetlands conservation grants, USDA forest stewardship, private landowner stewardship and incentive grants, as well as Secretary Norton's Cooperative Conservation Initiative.
In the past, the success of the Land and Water Conservation program has been measured by the amount of land the Federal Government acquired, not by the quality of conservation and recreation opportunities that took place on those lands. President Bush is providing incentives for states, local governments, community organizations, and private land owners to protect and restore landscapes, enhance wildlife habitat, help to recover species, and enhance outdoor recreation opportunities.
Through the Land and Water Conservation Fund program, the Administration is providing a holistic approach that funds federal, state, local, and private conservation and recreation programs that address a wide range of needs. Reflecting the President's goals, the Interior land acquisition program seeks to promote cooperative alliances, leave land on state tax roles, and make the most efficient use of this funding by emphasizing innovative alternatives to fee simple title purchases, such as conservation easements and land exchanges. This emphasis also enables Interior land managers to focus more funds on caring for lands already under their management.
New Mexico $1,733,898
New York $7,982,453
North Carolina $3,612,306
North Dakota $1,388,885
Rhode Island $1,598,430
South Carolina $2,443,725
South Dakota $1,400,563
West Virginia $1,686,882
District of Col. $240,257
Puerto Rico $2,163,575
Virgin Islands $49,719
No. Marianas $50,000
$156,000,000 Estimated LWCF Apportionment of
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