SPEAKERS CONTENTS INSERTS
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STATE LAND AND WATER CONSERVATION ACT
SUBCOMMITTEE ON NATIONAL PARKS AND PUBLIC LANDS
COMMITTEE ON RESOURCES
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
ONE HUNDRED FIFTH CONGRESS
FEDERAL FUNDING OF THE STATE LAND AND WATER CONSERVATION ACT
Page 2 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOCMARCH 11, 1997WASHINGTON, DC
Serial No. 1052
Printed for the use of the Committee on Resources
COMMITTEE ON RESOURCES
DON YOUNG, Alaska, Chairman
W.J. (BILLY) TAUZIN, Louisiana
JAMES V. HANSEN, Utah
JIM SAXTON, New Jersey
ELTON GALLEGLY, California
JOHN J. DUNCAN, Jr., Tennessee
JOEL HEFLEY, Colorado
JOHN T. DOOLITTLE, California
WAYNE T. GILCHREST, Maryland
KEN CALVERT, California
RICHARD W. POMBO, California
BARBARA CUBIN, Wyoming
HELEN CHENOWETH, Idaho
LINDA SMITH, Washington
GEORGE P. RADANOVICH, California
WALTER B. JONES, Jr., North Carolina
Page 3 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOCWILLIAM M. (MAC) THORNBERRY, Texas
JOHN SHADEGG, Arizona
JOHN E. ENSIGN, Nevada
ROBERT F. SMITH, Oregon
CHRIS CANNON, Utah
KEVIN BRADY, Texas
JOHN PETERSON, Pennsylvania
RICK HILL, Montana
BOB SCHAFFER, Colorado
JIM GIBBONS, Nevada
MICHAEL D. CRAPO, Idaho
GEORGE MILLER, California
EDWARD J. MARKEY, Massachusetts
NICK J. RAHALL II, West Virginia
BRUCE F. VENTO, Minnesota
DALE E. KILDEE, Michigan
PETER A. DeFAZIO, Oregon
ENI F.H. FALEOMAVAEGA, American Samoa
NEIL ABERCROMBIE, Hawaii
SOLOMON P. ORTIZ, Texas
OWEN B. PICKETT, Virginia
FRANK PALLONE, Jr., New Jersey
CALVIN M. DOOLEY, California
CARLOS A. ROMERO-BARCELÓ, Puerto Rico
Page 4 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOCMAURICE D. HINCHEY, New York
ROBERT A. UNDERWOOD, Guam
SAM FARR, California
PATRICK J. KENNEDY, Rhode Island
ADAM SMITH, Washington
WILLIAM D. DELAHUNT, Massachusetts
CHRIS JOHN, Louisiana
DONNA CHRISTIAN-GREEN, Virgin Islands
NICK LAMPSON, Texas
RON KIND, Wisconsin
LLOYD A. JONES, Chief of Staff
ELIZABETH MEGGINSON, Chief Counsel
CHRISTINE KENNEDY, Chief Clerk/Administrator
JOHN LAWRENCE, Democratic Staff Director
Subcommittee on National Parks and Public Lands
JAMES V. HANSEN, Utah, Chairman
ELTON, GALLEGLY, California
JOHN J. DUNCAN, Jr., Tennessee
JOEL HEFLEY, Colorado
WAYNE T. GILCHREST, Maryland
RICHARD W. POMBO, California
HELEN CHENOWETH, Idaho
Page 5 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOCLINDA SMITH, Washington
GEORGE P. RADANOVICH, California
WALTER B. JONES, Jr., North Carolina
JOHN B. SHADEGG, Arizona
JOHN E. ENSIGN, Nevada
ROBERT F. SMITH, Oregon
RICK HILL, Montana
JIM GIBBONS, Nevada
ENI F.H. FALEOMAVAEGA, American Samoa
EDWARD J. MARKEY, Massachusetts
NICK J. RAHALL II, West Virginia
BRUCE F. VENTO, Minnesota
DALE E. KILDEE, Michigan
FRANK PALLONE, Jr., New Jersey
CARLOS A. ROMERO-BARCELÓ, Puerto Rico
MAURICE D. HINCHEY, New York
ROBERT A. UNDERWOOD, Guam
PATRICK J. KENNEDY, Rhode Island
WILLIAM D. DELAHUNT, Massachusetts
DONNA CHRISTIAN-GREEN, Virgin Islands
RON KIND, Wisconsin
ALLEN FREEMYER, Counsel
STEVE HODAPP, Professional Staff
Page 6 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOCLIZ BIRNBAUM, Democratic Counsel
C O N T E N T S
Hearing held March 11, 1997
Statements of Members:
Christian-Green, Hon. Donna, a U.S. Delegate from the Virgin Islands
Faleomavaega, Hon. Eni, a U.S. Delegate from American Samoa
Hansen, Hon. James, a U.S. Representative from Utah
Hefley, Hon. Joel, a U.S. Representative from Colorado
Smith, Hon. Bob, a U.S. Representative from Oregon
Statements of witnesses:
Beck, Judy, Commissioner, Glenview Park District, IL
Cove, Thomas J., Vice President of Government Relations, Sporting Goods Manufacturers Association
Murphy, Donald W., Director, California Department of Parks and Recreation
Stevenson, Katherine, Associate Director, National Park Service
Tindall, Barry S., Director of Public Policy, National Recreation and Park Association
Page 7 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOCAdditional material supplied:
Murphy, Donald: LWCF Funding Levels
Stevenson, Katherine: Receipts, Appropriations and Unappropriated Balances Reported by Treasury Dept. (LWCF)
Capital Investment in Parks and Recreation
LWCF Project Examples
FEDERAL FUNDING OF THE STATE LAND AND WATER CONSERVATION ACT PROGRAMS
TUESDAY, MARCH 11, 1997
House of Representatives, Subcommittee on National Parks and Public Lands, Committee on Resources,
The Subcommittee met, pursuant to call, at 9:17 a.m., in room 1324, Longworth House Office Building, Hon. James Hansen (Chairman of the Subcommittee) presiding.
STATEMENT OF HON. JAMES HANSEN, A U.S. REPRESENTATIVE FROM UTAH; AND CHAIRMAN, SUBCOMMITTEE ON NATIONAL PARKS AND PUBLIC LANDS
Mr. HANSEN. We are here at this relatively early hour today to learn a little about the needs and benefits of Federal funding for the State Land and Water Conservation Fund program. This has been a highly successful program, which has brought the opportunity for open space recreation to millions of Americans on a daily basis.
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I am disappointed to see that Secretary of the Interior Bruce Babbitt, like Secretary James Watt before him, has set off on a pathway to eliminate funding for the State Land and Water Conservation Fund program. This is particularly ironic because the Clinton Administration endorsed the revitalization of this program in a 1994 report.
Today, we will hear from the Administration that it just simply is not a high enough priority for them to seek funds. I find that curious when the Administration is seeking nearly $300 million for Federal land acquisition in fiscal year 1998. Included within the Administration's request are such items as $4.2 million request for the Appalachian Trail, where the Federal Government is now buying up the viewshed along the trail at a cost of over $2 million per mile, and $22 million to buy several dams in the State of Washington.
I know that there are those who advocate increasing funds for both the Federal and State LWCF programs. That is really only a question of money, and I look forward to their suggestions as to where the funds will come from. In the meantime, it is appropriate to ask the question of priority. Specifically, should Congress continue to fund the Federal LWCF program exclusively?
The State LWCF program not only addresses the highest priority needs of the American public for outdoor recreation close to home, but because of the matching requirements is an even better deal for the taxpayer than Federal land acquisition. Further, report after report documents that the Federal Government cannot properly manage the 650 million acres already entrusted to it.
Page 9 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC In fact, several years ago the Interior Inspector General recommended that the Fish and Wildlife Service suspend acquisition altogether, until they could properly manage the lands that they had already acquired.
I am pleased that a grassroots effort has begun to help revitalize this program. I encourage those persons associated with that effort to work with us on the Committee. As Members become more aware of the benefits of this program through efforts such as this hearing, I believe that it will be possible to generate the strong bipartisan support for this effort to restore the original vision of this Act which was to provide recreation opportunities for all Americans.
I have been on this committee for nine terms now, and we have looked at this every time and I have yet to see something occur. I would really like to see something come to fruition at this point.
Mr. HANSEN. My friend from Oregon, the Chairman of the Agriculture Committee, is with us. Mr. Smith, do you have any opening comments in this regard?
STATEMENT OF HON. BOB SMITH, A U.S. REPRESENTATIVE FROM OREGON
Mr. SMITH. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Just an observation or two. The Soil and Water Conservation Fund, as I recall, was always a sinking hole that those who wanted and could not fund any other program, find money for any other program, used it. And as you and I sat and watched the addition to the Federal lands to 650 million acres and no money to support those additions, the other parks and other purposes, we raised the question all along why are we taking more land off the tax roles, especially in the western States.
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In my district, 75 percent of the land is already owned by the Federal Government. The Federal Government does not need any more land in my part of the State of Oregon and of course in many States of the West, as you well know, including your own. A heavy, heavy percentage of the lands in those States already belong to the Federal Government and the tax structure on the rest of the land that is privately held supports all the infrastructure so we are pinchedby the way, the Federal Government is a lousy neighbor. They do not pay their way.
So as one who comes from that kind of a background I am very concerned. I know, as you mentioned, Mr. Chairman, in 1994 Mr. Clinton himself recommended that the shares be in this manner 30 percent to the State, 30 percent to the Federal Government, 30 percent to cities, and 10 percent discretionary.
So before we go forward I would like to analyze how we ought to share this thing. Frankly, I am more inclined to believe that the States have a better idea how to manage this fund than does the Federal Government. And taking the opportunity for the Federal Government to make wrong decisions I prefer to give it all to the States and maybe some of the cities. So if we are going to fund it I would like to see it distributed. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. HANSEN. I thank the gentleman for his comments. I notice he pointed out that he felt the Federal Government was a lousy neighbor. As you know, members of this committee, we are going to have a payment in lieu of tax problem as the amount recommended by the Clinton Administration is substantially less.
The problem we have out in the West, we have all of the folks encouraging people to come out to our areas. Like you, many of the areas in the first congressional district and some of the counties are 90 percent owned by the Federal Government. So folks come out and they have a great impact on the area and we have to clean it up. They are up there hiking and they break a leg and we have to go get them. They start a fire, we have to put it out. And then they turn around and say we do not want to pay you anything.
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So payment in lieu of taxes will be an issue here and I hope we can handle that. I am pleased to see my friend from American Samoa come in, the ranking member of the committee, Mr. Faleomavaega. Do you have anything you would like to say in opening statement, sir?
STATEMENT OF HON. ENI F.H. FALEOMAVAEGA, A U.S. DELEGATE FROM THE TERRITORY OF AMERICAN SAMOA
Mr. FALEOMAVAEGA. Mr. Chairman, my apologies for being late. The traffic was not very favorable in my coming this morning. I certainly would like to offer my personal welcome to the Chairman of our Agriculture Committee, the gentleman from Oregon who is also a member of the committee. I am very happy to see him here this morning.
For the sake of time, I am going to submit my statement for the record and would like to proceed and welcome our gentlelady from the Virgin Islands and other members of our committee, the gentleman from Colorado. I would like to proceed if it is all right with you.
Mr. HANSEN. Thank you very much. Your full statement will be included in the record.
[Statement of Mr. Faleomavaega follows:]
STATEMENT OF ENI F.H. FALEOMAVAEGA, A U.S. DELEGATE FROM AMERICAN SAMOA
Since enactment of the Land and Water Conservation Fund in 1964, over $3 billion have been appropriated for matching grants to the 50 States and U.S. insular areas used for land acquisition, open space needs and recreation development. Through this program more than 2.3 million acres have been acquired and recreation facilities built on some 25,000 sites. I'm sure each of us can point to successful protects in our communities which were made possible through LWCF funding. In American Samoa we have used the funds to improve the Pago Pago Park and Marina, Utulei Public Beach, Pago Stadium, Mialoa Fishing Complex, and the Lavolava Golf Course. Improvements that our visitors and residents alike have enjoyed.
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Funding for both the State and Federal side of the Land and Water Conservation Fund comes out of receipts from surplus Federal property sales and offshore oil and gas leases. Each year $900 million is credited to the program from these receipts, however, throughout the 1980's and 1990's less than one third of the amount credited has been appropriated for use. During the 104th Congress State side funding was zeroed out completely and the Federal share was cut substantially.
Both the Federal and State sides of LWCF deserve continued fundingthe Federal side allows for protection and conservation of areas of national significance while the State side allows State and local governments to determine how to use the funds to address local concerns and interests. I know it is the opinion of some that only one side of LWCF should be funded at the expense of the other but I think the success of this program shows that adequate funding for both sides should be reinstated.
I thank the Chairman for calling this morning's oversight hearing and look forward to hearing from our witnesses regarding their experiences with the Land and Water Conservation Fund.
Mr. HANSEN. The gentlelady from the Virgin Islands is recognized.
STATEMENT OF HON. DONNA CHRISTIAN-GREEN, A U.S. DELEGATE FROM THE VIRGIN ISLANDS
Page 13 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Ms. CHRISTIAN-GREEN. Good morning, Mr. Chairman, and good morning to the witnesses here today. I am new to this committee so I have not been participating in this ongoing discussion but I look forward to doing so this morning. And I feel very strongly about the importance of maintaining parks.
It has been one of the main complaints as I campaigned this year through the Virgin Islands that our parks were in disrepair and our young people had no good places to go for recreation so I am very much interested in hearing the testimony. And I know the importance of parks not only to maintaining our country's health but also our quality of life. Thank you.
Mr. HANSEN. Thank you. The gentleman from Colorado, you are recognized.
STATEMENT OF HON. JOEL HEFLEY, A U.S. REPRESENTATIVE FROM COLORADO
Mr. HEFLEY. Mr. Chairman, I think our first meeting of the overall committee this year, in our packet of materials was a map fromI have forgotten where it was from, but it showed the public lands in this country, the Federal lands that were owned, and it showed it in a very dramatic and graphic way, something I knew and understood intellectually but to see it, it really is shocking.
And that is that from the Colorado eastern border east there are almost no colored areas. Now, sure, there were a few parks and there were a few military bases and so forth that were Federal land east of the Colorado eastern border. From the eastern border of Colorado west it looked like the Federal Government owned everything because of the colored areas.
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And it is something thatit is a map, I wish I had it with me this morning, that we ought to have with us here in the committee to illustrate this and put it in perspective every time we talk about land and water issues because I do not think most people understand and I did not understand it quite as graphically as this displayed it.
The West is largely owned by the Federal Government and partially because when they had the early settlement that was land that no one wanted at that time. And now we are living with that kind of a legacy. You are in Utah and in Washington and in Oregon, and certainly in Colorado. So as we think of these things, I think we ought to think of it in the perspective of that fact that the Federal Government owns a good part of the western United States and very little of the East. I think that is why we have trouble getting our eastern colleagues to understand what we are dealing with.
Mr. HANSEN. I think the gentleman's point is well taken. Our eastern folks do not have any idea of what we go through but we should have some wilderness in the East. I appreciate their efforts. The gentleman from Puerto Rico.
Mr. ROMERO-BARCELÓ. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I have no comments to make.
Mr. FALEOMAVAEGA. Would the Chairman yield?
Mr. HANSEN. I yield to the gentleman.
Page 15 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. FALEOMAVAEGA. Just to tell my friend from Colorado that one of the latest issues of the National Geographic magazine points out the fact where Federal lands currently are located and I think the gentleman probably got a copy
Mr. HEFLEY. Someone handed me the map, Mr. Chairman, and the colored areas are Federal-owned lands and this illustrates what I am saying. This is Colorado's eastern border. If you look at Colorado west, what it amounts to, and if you look at Colorado, what it amounts to, and that is pretty dramatic.
Mr. HANSEN. I think the point the gentleman made is thatno disrespect to our good friends from the States east of the area. But they have very little understanding of the problems we have out in our area. We are grateful for our witnesses who are here.
Our first panel consists of Barry S. Tindall, Donald W. Murphy, Thomas J. Cove, and Judy Beck. If these folks would like to come up and you have a little sign there in front of you. If you can all figure out which one is yours we are OK. We appreciate you being with us today. We will start with Mr. Tindall, Director of Public Policy, National Recreation and Park Association, and then we will just move on across.
Does anybody here have a statement that is going to take longer than five minutes? I really appreciate that. That is very kind of you. And if you will notice in front of you there, there is a traffic light and when the green goes on that means go, yellow means wind it up, and red means stop. And I would really appreciate you staying within the time. And I appreciate you being here. Mr. Tindall, we will turn to you, sir, and the time is yours.
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STATEMENT OF BARRY S. TINDALL, DIRECTOR OF PUBLIC POLICY, NATIONAL RECREATION AND PARK ASSOCIATION
Mr. TINDALL. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. My name is Barry Tindall. I am Director of Public Policy for National Recreation and Park Association. We appreciate the invitation to be here this morning to share some points of view on something we have been advocates for for a long, long time. Before I get into my statement, I might say that my organization is looking forward with great enthusiasm to meeting in Salt Lake City this fall. We will bring between 5,000 and 6,000 public and other park and recreation folks into your State. We look forward to seeing and using the recreation resources at all levels of government, city, county and Federal resources as well.
Let me also say that I do not fully understand the western point of view, if you will. My home is in New Jersey or was in New Jersey until I moved to northern Virginia, but my organization has historically supported a continuum of recreation destinations that range from the smallest community play lot to many of our great Federal resources.
I want this Subcommittee to understand that we are a national association but most of our members, frankly, are non-Federal employees. We have an intense interest in the stateside of the Land and Water Conservation Fund, as well as the Urban Park and Recreation Recovery Program and other things that are related, other statutes, policies, related to providing recreation resources and experiences.
You have my statement. In answer to your question, yes, it would take far longer than five minutes to get through it. I do not intend to burden you with that. I would simply say that the stateside of the Land and Water Conservation Fund is, in fact, one of the great American conservation successes in this country. We have invested something in the order of $3.2 billion of Federal funds.
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The important thing to note is that the States and subdivisions of States, with a great infusion of private sector interest, has more than doubled that money. It has leveraged in many cases 4 to 1, 5 to 1, 10 to 1, times the amount of the Federal investment to conserve land and to provide recreation access.
Your staff asked us to say something about the needs for the program in the near future. In 1995 we did a national random sample survey of the 5,000 local park and recreation systems in this country that have at least one full-time executive. They told us that something in the order of $27.3 billion would be necessary. That is the big picture dollar amount to restore, to increase the capacity, and to protect land for capital investment in parks, municipal and county public park and recreation systems.
The States told us that they need at least $3 billion. We think this is a very conservative figure and maybe Mr. Murphy can expand on that. I think it is important, when you are looking at the Land and Water Conservation Fund, to recognize that the fund and its dollars are critically important, but it has also encouraged the States and local governments to undertake a large number of other conservation and recreation-related initiativesState Wild and Scenic Rivers, State trail systems, and State planning processes, for example. When the Land and Water Conservation was created in 1964 and operationalized in 1965, there were very few States that had anything approaching a comprehensive statewide planning process, but the fund provided incentives to encourage that type of thing and many States have worked out similar relationships with local governments.
It is important, and I will try to wrap up with just focusing on what we think has gone wrong with the Land and Water Conservation Fund, particularly State assistance, since 1981 and the abolishment of the Heritage Conservation and Recreation Service, originally the Bureau of Outdoor Recreation.
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That was the principal planning agency in this country for recreation and parks. It managed the Land and Water Conservation Fund. It negotiated between the Federal agencies as to what Federal priorities would be. That entity was abolished in 1981 and that exposed, inside the Interior Department, the stateside of the Land and Water Conservation Fund to horrible political pressures and the priorities of the Federal land systems, not only those managed by Interior, but the Agriculture folks as well through the Forest Service. So that is an issue, the abolishment of the agency.
The elimination of the minimum allocation for State assistance in 1976, I believe, was another serious strike against the stateside of the Land and Water Conservation Fund. The reversal of that, to provide the Federal agencies with not less than 40 percent, obviously provides no protection whatsoever to the stateside of the Land and Water Conservation Fund.
Limited consideration of State and local alternatives to Federal land conservation actions is another thing that, we believe, has caused the demise in land and water. The near abandonment of the resource investment concept is another. The American people will extract in excess of $2 billion in Outer Continental Shelf receipts this year. Our calculations indicate that a minimal percentage of that will go back to the Land and Water Conservation Fund and, as proposed by the Administration, exclusively for Federal lands.
Lastly, Mr. Chairman, I would mention the absence of a grassroots constituency. That is not surprising because the stateside of the Land and Conservation Fund was created by Congress to be a grassroots-up program. That is, decisionmaking is best at State and local government levels. And, frankly, that has worked so well that some Members of Congress, maybe many Members of Congress, are challenged to gain political identify or connection, if you will, with the program.
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Given the budget stresses of the last several years I think the evidence will show that Members of Congress and maybe even people in the Executive Branch tend to be associated with specific Federal projects versus the more generic State program. I will stop at that point and be happy to answer any questions that the Subcommittee may have a little bit later on.
[Statement of Mr. Tindall may be found at end of hearing.]
Mr. HANSEN. Thank you, Mr. Tindall. We appreciate your comments. Our next witness is Donald W. Murphy, Director of California Department of Parks and Recreation. Mr. Murphy, it is good to see you again, sir. I appreciate your great comments with us both in California and here last year, especially your fine statement on the Park Reform Act. That was an excellent statement. I will turn the time to you, sir.
STATEMENT OF DONALD W. MURPHY, DIRECTOR, CALIFORNIA DEPARTMENT OF PARKS AND RECREATION
Mr. MURPHY. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. It is certainly good to see you again and good to be here and I appreciate the invitation. It is a privilege to be here today to talk about the vital importance of the Land and Water Conservation Fund for State and local programs.
By way of introduction, let me tell you that I sit here wearing several hats. In 1991, Governor Pete Wilson appointed me Director of the California Department of Parks and Recreation. It is the nation's largest State park system with 1.3 million acres and a budget of nearly $200 million. I have been with California State Parks since I entered as a park ranger cadet in 1980.
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Additionally, I serve as president of the National Association of State Outdoor Recreation Liaison Officers, commonly referred to as NASORLO, and it is the organization of State officials whose responsibility it is to apportion LWCF moneys to their respective States.
Lastly, I am co-chair of the new organization, Americans for Heritage and Recreation, a newly formed coalition of LWCF stakeholders dedicated to securing more stable funding for conservation and outdoor recreation. This new organization represents a broad spectrum of individuals and ideas, from the Wilderness Society to the Sporting Goods Manufacturing Association, represented by my friend Tom Cove here, brought together with the realization that the restoration of LWCF for its original intention is vital for all of America.
This is what I want you to understand from me today. A program that has worked so well for so many years has gotten so far off track that we really need a crane to put it back on track. And I am not here to denigrate the Federal funding side of the LWCF in favor of the State funding side. The two are necessary parts of a whole, and one should not exist without the other. But since I was invited here to speak on the importance of the stateside funding, I wish to confine my remarks to that area.
When the Land and Water Conservation Fund became law in 1965, this was its statement of purpose. The purposes of this part are to assist in preserving, developing, and assuring accessibility to all such quality and quantity of outdoor recreation resources as may be available and are necessary and desirable for individual active participation in such recreation, and to strengthen the health and vitality of the citizens of the United States by (1) providing funds for, and authorizing Federal assistance to, the States in planning, acquisition, and development of needed land and water areas and facilities, and (2) providing funds for the Federal acquisition and development of certain lands and other areas.
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The last portion of this statement is most important for my purposes here today. As the law was written, one of the first principles behind the Land and Conservation Fund is assistance to the States. This need was widely recognized on both sides of the aisle, and in prior Republican and Democratic administrations.
In the years following this Act's passage, the States benefited greatly from LWCF. But with the coming of the 1980's, this changed dramatically. Support for the State and local programs plummeted. In the last two fiscal years, there were no LWCF appropriations for State and local matching grants.
California is a case in point. In the 1970's, the Golden State benefited greatly from the LWCF, averaging a little more than $11 million each year which the State matched of course with an additional $11 million. Since then, however, funding dropped as quickly as a rock off the Golden Gate Bridge. In the 1980's, the average LWCF annual appropriation for California fell to less than $7 million, and so far this decade we faced even worse averaging about $1.4 million. That is a mere 10 percent of the funding we received in the 70's.
The negligence is as bipartisan as the creation of the act itself, and spans administrations of both parties. California is not unique in this. Attendance in State parks around the country rose by more than 30 million annually between '87 and '92. In his 1995 report to Congress on the LWCF, National Park Service Director Kennedy said, ''States continue to support this program and depend on its annual apportionment to supplement existing funding sources in providing recreation opportunities to their communities. In many local instances it constitutes the only means of financing much-needed recreational opportunities for its populace, including youth-at-risk, senior citizens, the economically disadvantaged, and those with disabilities.''
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There are many debates in these corridors, and even in this Subcommittee, about the role of Federal Government in preserving public lands. We experience this in Sacramento as well, I assure you. In another way, therefore, I cannot stress enough the importance of LWCF for States and local communities.
In short, it gives more power to the people by placing the funds closer to home. Here in Washington, you refer to it as States' rights. Thousands of miles west of here, at the Capitol, they refer to it as local control. The benefits of this are numerous. More people are involved in the decisionmaking process. Communities must match the LWCF grant, so they have an incentive and a goal that can be attained. In many areas, problems in a State or community are best answered by those who live there.
In its day, the LWCF has built ballparks in urban settings such as Oakland, it acquired Martin Luther King, Jr.'s boyhood home in Atlanta, and it helped finish off the Appalachian Trail. Over the life span of the program, stateside funding has financed more than 8,500 acquisition projects covering more than 2.3 million acres, and funded 28,000 outdoor recreational facility developments.
Thirty some-odd years ago, the creation of the Land and Water Conservation Fund was a bipartisan measure that makes sense even today. It is an issue that is broad enough for all to accept and one that crosses many boundaries. That is why such a broad coalition has come together, as I said earlier.
The restoration of the State and local LWCF funding should be an easy decision for you, and it is an easy decision that will immediately show many rewards throughout the country. There is no controversy in restoring State and local support in LWCF, but I can assure you there will be if this noble effort is abandoned.
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As you said yourself, sir, the need for public outdoor recreation space is greatest in urban and suburban areas of this country. For these reasons, continued exclusive focus on Federal land acquisition cannot be justified. I could have not said it better myself, sir. Thank you very much.
[Statement of Mr. Murphy may be found at end of hearing.]
Mr. HANSEN. Thank you, Mr. Murphy. I appreciate your testimony. Mr. Cove, Vice President of Government Relations, Sporting Goods Manufacturers Association. The time is yours, sir.
STATEMENT OF THOMAS J. COVE, VICE PRESIDENT OF GOVERNMENT RELATIONS, SPORTING GOODS MANUFACTURERS ASSOCIATION
Mr. COVE. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. My name is Tom Cove. I am the Vice President of SGMA. We are the national trade association for producers of athletic equipment, footwear and apparel, and we welcome the opportunity to testify. In 1994, I was honored to serve on the National Park Service Review Committee for the Land and Water Conservation Fund.
I continue to endorse the report's basic finding, namely, that a reinvigoration of the land and water vision is vitally needed in order for the country to save its heritage of open spaces and parks. Within my industry, as already has been mentioned today, we regard the experience of a well-funded stateside Land and Water Fund to be a demonstrable success.
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The fund allowed a great diversity of land to be protected and created an inventory of recreational opportunities for citizens in every State. Beyond the actual money it provided, the fund's incentives created partnerships that have resulted in innovative programs to protect habitat, preserve historic sites and provide recreation.
The fund was a promise made to the American people beginning in 1965 that has delivered a return on investment that any Wall Street banker would be proud to call his or her own. And, sadly, the promise has been broken in recent years when the funding for the stateside of the fund was cut substantially.
Let me take a moment to highlight why we think the State assistance program is important. State and local parks are where the vast majority of Americans recreate day in and day out. Although most Americans might love to visit our showcase national parks regularly, they are unable to do for reasons of economics, geography or competing leisure alternatives.
The fact is most Americans recreate close to home. Whether for toddlers in a playground, teenagers on a ball field, or senior citizens on a nature trail, accessible recreation opportunities are basic to quality of life. Participation in recreation is valued not just for enjoyment but because Americans know it leads to improved health, better appreciation of nature and stronger, shared values.
Providing recreation opportunities close to home is more imperative than ever. In the 1996 report, the Recreation Roundtable found that the greatest barrier to participation in outdoor recreation in America was lack of discretionary time. Local recreational alternatives speak directly to Americans' needs to carve more time out of the day.
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And at the same time the quality of recreation experiences in certain locations is falling. In the same Recreation Roundtable study, Americans living in large, urban areas are as a group the least satisfied with their recreation opportunities. The study also found that residents of America's largest metropolitan areas participate on average in fewer recreation activities and on a less frequent basis than other Americans.
A '95 Washington Post article, entitled ''No Place to Play'', recounts the tragic story of two young girls who died after playing in an abandoned car in Southeast Washington. The underlying theme of the story, as articulated by many angry residents of the neighborhood, was the lack of opportunities for local children to recreate in a safe, enjoyable way.
Seeing images of unscathed community gardens and parks located next to torched buildings after the '92 Los Angeles riots makes clear how urban communities value open spaces. In suburban America, conflicts over use of parks are increasingly commonplace. We see at the beginning of every season, soccer and football league administrators battling over access to precious fields.
Primary school parents view junior high and high school sports programs as a threat to their children's ability to get field time. Women's sports proponents are becoming more vocal, appropriately so, about receiving their fair share of choice locations and practice times.
This can limit the number of young people who have the opportunity to play sports and rarely are the elite athletes the one who loses, but more likely the intramural player for whom hurdles to participation become quickly instrumental. Privately owned fee-based facilities are being developed to meet the need for recreation. While these complexes do deliver quality services, we should not allow personal financial resources to determine citizens basic access to recreation.
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At the same time, there are almost daily reports about the negative health consequences of America's sedentary lifestyle. Just last Friday, the CDC reported 35 percent of the country's adults and 13 percent of our children weigh dangerously more than they should. This is the most overweight our nation has been since the government began compiling statistics in the '60's.
The need to make recreation alternatives available to all Americans is good public policy. I do not want to leave the impression that the Land and Water Fund is simply or should be simply a funding vehicle for recreation. Any discussion of Land and Water must include its fundamental conservation legacy. The protection of threatened land and water resources remains a central and essential basis for the fund.
Of particular concern is that we might be bringing up generations of Americans who have no connection to the wonders of our country's vast natural legacy. The policy implications of having large numbers of citizens with no hands-on contact with nature and conservation are scary.
Looking forward in terms of funding, we believe that theoretical premise of investing royalty income from depletion of one non-renewal resource for protection of a different precious resource remains strong and valid. It should be maintained if at all possible.
In closing, I would just associate my remarks with my friend, Mr. Murphy. And I want to be clear as much as our industry values the stateside fund, we do not advocate draining the Federal account to increase State appropriations. We understand the significant budget constraints facing the Congress but I think I would just like to look to the '94 report which was eloquent in capturing the vision we endure.
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So I will close with this. We envision a network of parks, preserves, open spaces, greenways, recreations sites and centers stretching across this nation, touching all communities, and accessible to all Americans. It is a noble and appropriate vision, one which the Land and Water Fund can definitely deliver and will only take the commitmenta long-term commitmentof resources to make it happen. I thank you for the opportunity to testify.
[Statement of Mr. Cove may be found at end of hearing.]
Mr. HANSEN. Thank you, Mr. Cove. We appreciate your testimony. Commissioner Judy Beck, Glenview Park District of Illinois. Commissioner, we are grateful to have you with us and we will turn the time to you.
STATEMENT OF JUDY BECK, COMMISSIONER, GLENVIEW PARK DISTRICT, ILLINOIS
Ms. BECK. Mr. Chairman, and members of the Subcommittee, thank you. My name is Judy Beck and I am an elected park commissioner in Glenview, Illinois, and have been for 18 years. I am one of 2,100 elected in our State to serve without compensation. I have also served as the president of the Illinois Association of Park District, representing over 300 forest conservation and park districts in the State.
And I would like to speak today on behalf of restoring funding through the local grant portion of the Land and Water Conservation Fund, a commitment by Congress that is fundamental to the protection of recreational opportunities for all Americans wherever they reside.
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As a locally elected official I am certainly aware of the need to contain spending but I also am aware of the need for a partnership, one that has a long history of success and that is what my remarks will be dedicated to this morning. In Illinois, our State's existing public recreation lands and facilities are inadequate to meet the needs of 11.5 million people, 80 percent of whom reside in just 18 communities.
Less than 4 percent of Illinois' land is in public recreation and conservation use. Although we are recognized as a leader in recreation distribution systems intense competition for land brought about by urban sprawl in the agricultural counties severely limits our ability on the local level to afford the increasing demand for public open space and recreation lands.
And without increased and stable Federal funding opportunities will disappear and recreation lands and pristine natural areas in Illinois for future generations will be lost forever. Last year, projects totaling more thanlast year communities sought $24 million in assistance and over the years we have had projects totaling more than $290 million in value funded in Illinois. The need and the demands obviously are there.
Let me briefly tell you about some of the parks' industry. We are a separate unit of government authorized by State statute that encompasses all of the Village of Glenview and parts of five other surrounding villages and unincorporated Cook County, with an approximate population of 50,000. We have independent taxing capabilities for open space and recreation, the limits of which have been capped and our budget by design is 60 percent fees and charges.
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The challenge, though, in Glenview, indeed in all of Northeastern Illinois and in other suburban and urban areas is to provide for open space and recreation in highly populated areas with a strong economy driving up land values. To illustrate that, undeveloped land in my community is priced by the square foot, not by the acre.
I would like to share with you the outstanding results of the Land and Water Conservation Program in my community. The Grove, a 123 acre nature preserve and center, is on the national historic landmark register. It was the home of Robert Kennicott, who at the time was the western most natural scientist for the Smithsonian Institution, the discoverer of dozens of species of plants and animals, many of which are threatened and remain on the site today, and one of the early explorers of Alaska.
In 1975, LWCF money was used as a part of a million dollar package to purchase 82 acres of Robert Kennicott's homestead. That money was leveraged with State and public funds as well as private contributions that include six acres and the Kennicott homestead from the Zenith Corporation.
Again in 1995, LWCF dollars were used in the same manner adding to the Grove 41 acres so it was owned by the John C. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. As a result of that, our agency was able to reunite two parcels that were once originally part of Kennicott's Grove. We now have open space, we have habitat, we have two museums, and the nature center.
None of this would have been possible without the original Land and Water Conservation dollars. In addition, the operation, maintenance and management of this project is locally, not federally funded. Today the Grove is a vital part of our community. Approximately 18,000 school children visit the Grove and the total annual attendance is about 55,000. It is clear that by any measurement this is a success story.
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I testify before you today because I believe in the value of parks and recreation and what it adds to the lives of all Americans. I have seen the impact of suburban sprawl and the tremendous brownscape problems in the city. I have also seen firsthand that stateside funding is a stimulus to acquire additional money for investment in our parks.
Funding does more than provide opportunities for fun and games. It impacts youths at risk, crime prevention, health care cost reduction, economic growth, urban revitalization, improved environmental quality, and promotes a tremendous sense of family pride in the community. If recreation is viewed as an industry in 1990 through a study we found that we contribute $3.1 billion to the Illinois economy including 7,000 private sector jobs.
I am asking for your assistance and I thank you for the opportunity to bring the concerns of local officials before you today.
[Statement of Ms. Beck may be found at end of hearing.]
Mr. HANSEN. Thank you, Commissioner, I appreciate your testimony. The gentleman from American Samoa is recognized for five minutes.
Mr. FALEOMAVAEGA. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I appreciate the testimony that has been forwarded this morning by members of our panel, and I do have a couple of questions I would like to ask collectively for their response. I am informed that the Appropriations Committee does not favor supporting funding State grant programs.
Page 31 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC At the same time it is my understanding if the number one request from members of the Appropriations Committee is to provide funding for Federal land acquisition that this seems to be one of the problems that we have with the law itself, the Land and Water Conservation Fund. If we put these two together and there is some very strong disagreements in terms of how we go about in resolving it.
Now I believe the record will show that the members of this side of the aisle have always been very supportive of State grant programs especially when it is on a matching basis, 50/50 match. And I guess the question that is raised here is where do we get the money to pay for this.
And I would like to ask the members of the panel if you have any comments to that effect. How do we convince the Members that what you are saying is positive and that we should be supportive of funding of the program?
Mr. MURPHY. I would like to take a shot at that in the beginning since you asked it collectively. We are here to advocate for the original intent of the Land and Water Conservation Fund which was $900 million from the Outer Continental Shelf oil royalties. That is where the money came from and that is where it should continue to come from.
It was a bipartisan agreement back in 1965. It basically said that we are going to use money made from this nonrenewable resource to support outdoor recreation and protect other natural and cultural resources in this country. It was a perfect tradeoff and it made absolute sense and it continues to make sense today, and that is where the money should continue to come from.
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However, I want to hasten to add that none of us are insensitive to the fact that this country faces a tremendous deficit and that we are in the process after the newly formed organization that I mentioned, AHR, Americans for our Heritage and Recreation of looking at ways that we can bring back to Congress and to this committee a restructuring at LWCF in looking at other funding sources and we are in that process right now with our stakeholders.
We think it is very important to at least take a honest look at that. However, it should not be ignored that this $900 million is there. It was a commitment that this country made to its people and that commitment should continue to be honored. As far as the Federal side of the fund is concerned, as you say there are general requests but Mr. Tindall alluded to the fact that what happens is that because this program has worked so well and the programs have taken place on a State and local level there has unfortunately been a disconnect with Members of Congress on the stateside of the fund because it has been administered so well locally.
And what we have got to do is to get Members of Congress educated as to how their individual districts are benefiting tremendously from this fund even though they may not recognize it and see the same direct connection that they see when Federal acquisition takes place which they then get political credit for.
But the record is clear that that is there to show Members the tremendous benefit that has been derived in their individual districts. It is just a matter of education and that is also one of the goals and objectives of this newly formed organization, AHR, to get Members educated in that regard.
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Mr. FALEOMAVAEGA. Mr. Tindall.
Mr. TINDALL. Yes. I cannot really speak to your first observation that the Interior Appropriations Subcommittee may not look favorably, either collectively or individually, on the stateside of the Land and Water Conservation Fund. I have some personal opinions on that relative to certain members but I will keep those personal for the time being.
There are individual members on that Subcommittee and in the Congress who believe that there is absolutely no Federal role, no Federal obligation, no Federal responsibility to do anything relative to parks and recreation for State or local units of government. That is the perspective and point of view that they have, and probably nothing that we can do can dissuade them from that view.
We would argue that you could make a parallel statement relative to local police forces, or support for local prison construction, or local education or transportation. You could go through a whole litany of Federal aid investments.
Mr. FALEOMAVAEGA. Or for that matter the entire National Park Service should return to the States for the localities to administer.
Mr. TINDALL. Well, I am not suggesting that. The National Park System and the other Federal land systems play critical roles in this country. But we addressed one Member of Congress in a private meeting a few weeks ago who said, ''I want to cut the Federal Government out of this completely.'' Now, I think this Subcommittee in 60 minutes or less could probably draft an amendment that would take OCS revenues and send them, on some formula basis, directly to the governor of each State.
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That would create a great equity of distribution. Now that legislator may or may not write that legislation. But it could happen and the Federal side could work exactly as it works today, make a case for Federal systems, for units of the Federal systems, and see what that adds up to.
But the point is, and if you look at the Administration's numbers, and I am not sure we are talking about the same numbers in terms of what the Administration has requested
Mr. FALEOMAVAEGA. Zero.
Mr. TINDALL. From the Land and Water Conservation Fund for fiscal years 1998 and 1997that is zero as far as the stateside is concerned, but there are dollars requested with the Federal system. By our calculations it comes out to 7.2 percent of total OCS revenues of in excess of $2 billion.
Now, we are not a poor nation. Certainly we have budget problems, but more so it is a question of priorities and how we use those dollars versus whether we should have parks or whether we should have transportation or whether we should have more police or security, things like that.
Mr. FALEOMAVAEGA. I am sorry. My time is up, Mr. Chairman. I will wait for the next round. Thank you, Mr. Tindall.
Page 35 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. HANSEN. Thank you. The gentleman from Colorado is recognized for five minutes, Mr. Hefley.
Mr. HEFLEY. Thank you, and thank the panel. In light of the bond issues that have been passed by various States and local jurisdictions in recent years and the lottery, a lot of States including Colorado have a lottery which proceeds go to parks and outdoor recreation. Do we really need this fund today, do the States really need it?
Mr. MURPHY. Well, speaking on behalf of the State of California where we have passed some local bond measures, we have not passed a State bond measure for the last ten years in the State of California. And for me the unequivocal answer is yes, we do need this fund because it is an investment in the heritage of the people of this nation.
And I might add quickly that it is not a fund that comes all from the Federal Government. I really need to emphasize that this is a matching fund for the States so the States have incentive and responsibility so it is an investment made by the Federal Government in each of its constituent 50 States and territories who in turn have to make an investment of their own as well.
In going back to the fundamental principle here, we talked about using Outer Continental Shelf oil royalties, a resource that belongs to all of the people of this nation, and I emphasize all of the people, not the government. It belongs to the people who are in the individual States and it was a bipartisan decision that that money would be divided amongst the States and the States would match that fund.
Page 36 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC I think the need is greater than ever, especially in terms of the pressures and the numbers of population increases in the demographic changes that we have particularly in the State of California just to keep up in this regard. So I think the program is needed now more than ever and it is not just a matter of money but it is a matter of commitment and philosophical investment in the heritage of this country.
Ms. BECK. I would also like to respond. I think that you have to keep in mind that the Land and Water Conservation Fund is not funding projects, it is really usually seed money from which a project is built. And while there is a 50 percent match that is required, it is usually only one small portion of the project and it enables with the overall aura of Federal funding buying the project in the local community, put together a package, go out into the private sector and get private givers and foundations involved.
I started out with a group of other citizens in front of bulldozers in order toit is just this classic story, in order to preserve what had been deemed a national historic landmark but there were no Federal funds that went with that designation. It was strictly up to the local community to somehow gather the dollars and the will in order to preserve that precious part of America's past.
Mr. TINDALL. Congressman, there is a dimension of the Land and Water Conservation Fund that has not really been cited here this morning. We certainly agree with the previous comments in response to your question. But what gets overlooked here is sort of the planning process and the anticipation that a community can do something about its open space and its recreation space needs.
Page 37 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC I have no numbers whatsoever to support this. But my hunch is that the hope, the anticipation, that community X or community Y or the State of California, the State of New Jersey, is going to get a certain amount of resources on an annualized basis for Land and Water Conservation Fund projects encourages communities to think about their needs.
And I think, frankly, there were far more projects that were unfunded by the Land and Water Conservation Fund, even in the better days than there were those that received assistance. But the notion that citizens are thinking about their needs through a planning process is encouraging. I think they find ways to get the resources whether or not they get a Land and Water Conservation Fund grant. But it encourages public thinking and private thinking about a community's resources and how they are going to be used.
So they have these intangibles out there. But we totally agree. The seed money, the catalytic effect of the Land and Water Conservation Fund has been phenomenal. Our data suggests that only 6 percent of this large need figure would come from Federal sources. That is all Federal sources, not just Land and Water, but ISTEA and urban park moneys and maybe some other things. They all go into that mix.
Mr. HEFLEY. Does the panel see these funds as needed primarily for acquisition of more land or for operation infrastructure to utilize better the lands that you already are?
Mr. MURPHY. I would like to respond to that. I think that speaking especially on behalf of the State of California, I think that the fund certainly should be used for addressing some of the infrastructure problems, rehabilitating some of the facilities, taking care of lands and projects that have already been developed over the years. That may be one of the structural things that is a problem with the fund right now but certainly those funds should be used for that as well.
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On the acquisition side there are still in many States including the State of California active acquisition programs that are necessary in certain areas especially in some urban areas where there are recreational facilities that need to be built and land that needs to be acquired to buy those facilities, greenways that need to be developed in urban areas to provide the kind of atmosphere for people growing up in urban environments that they should have for their health, an inspiration and vitality that was mentioned in the original fund.
So I think that there is still a mix but clearly the emphasis speaking on behalf of the State of California needs to be to address some of these recreational infrastructure problems and worn out facilities, many of which were developed with the Land and Water Conservation Fund in the first place.
Mr. TINDALL. Congressman, if you look at the first page of our survey, which is actually part of our testimony, the rank order, if you will, is new constructionalmost 50 percent of the resource needs. Rehabilitation, as Mr. Murphy is suggesting, is second, 30 some percent of resource needs, and land acquisition is about 18 percent of fiscal resource needs. That is the rank order at the municipal level, the local level.
Mr. COVE. From the industry point of view, we see the capital investment whether it is for land acquisition or for some of the more infrastructure rehabilitation, in some cases development, it is capital investment and it is fundamentally not operations. We perceive this fund being used for operations to be sort of a black hole. That can go anywhere and we would not be able to support that kind ofbut in terms of the land acquisition we also see this as much more real toward people than toward land. The land is to be used, particularly in the stateside, for all sorts of very close to home recreation and conservation needs that in the context of the discussion that the community started with about how much land is owned by the Federal Government in the West, etc., we see that as a completely different type of land acquisition than the stateside acquisition would be able to deliver.
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Ms. BECK. I also think you need to look at the pattern, particularly in the urban and suburban areas where when kind of a white elephant comes on the market and happens to have some historical significance they look to the local park district and it is usually an opportunity but unfortunately it is a pretty expensive opportunity in order to take a historic building and restore it and make it available as a public facility and so those funds are often capital intensive.
Mr. HEFLEY. Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. HANSEN. Thank you. The gentlelady from the Virgin Islands.
Ms. CHRISTIAN-GREEN. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I think my questions have been pretty much answered through the clear testimony and the questions of my colleagues. I would just like to make a comment and respectfully suggest that with regard to the map if there were more greenspace east of the Colorado that may help to begin to eliminate some of the social ills that tend to predominate in our cities and that is my comment.
Mr. HANSEN. Thank you. The gentleman from Puerto Rico.
Mr. ROMERO-BARCELÓ. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. The acquisition program requires thatfor the States requires a matching fund of 50 percent. Is that correct? And is the same matching fund the requirement for the improvement programs or for the rehabilitation programs?
Page 40 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. MURPHY. That is correct.
Mr. ROMERO-BARCELÓ. Although I think that the acquisition program State grants are funded obviously you can acquire more land with the same amount of money, Federal money, than you can for the Federal land acquisitions but what I have noticed in my own personal experience, and I might be wrong, is that usually most of the State parks are not as well maintained as some of the national parks, most of the national parks. Am I correct in that observation or have you had a different experience?
Mr. MURPHY. Well, it is certainly not the case in California and in fact that National Park Service and the State of California, we have joint management agreements where we have lands that are contiguous to each other. In California the same people that founded the National Park Service founded the State park system in California and I would say that there is no difference. It may be a difference in degrees depending upon funding from one year to the other or one park unit to the other but I do not think there is any general large scale difference between the two.
I think that all our park systems especially when you look at it that this is a system of nationwide parks and you do not make a distinction between national and State and local, we think of it in terms of a system of parks. We certainly all do suffer from the failure of the infrastructure just as we are nationwide looking at failure of the infrastructure in this nation and that is probably the greatest problem nationwide for all of our parks is the failure of the infrastructure and the need to address maintenance backlogs and those types of things.
Mr. ROMERO-BARCELÓ. I do not know much about California because I am from Puerto Rico and I do not travel very often to California.
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Mr. MURPHY. I understand.
Mr. ROMERO-BARCELÓ. But we in the eastern area have foundwhat I have said is from my observations. I have not made an analysis of it but it seems that the State parks are getting deteriorated faster and that there seems to be less controls about internal activities within the park or encroaches upon the park and in a lot of State parks you find the facilities that are not really usable because they are torn down or broken much more so than the national parks. Do you have any information about this or do you know anything about the situation in California? Am I correct? Am I wrong?
Mr. MURPHY. Well, your question wasyour observation is that facilities or resources in your State parks are more deteriorated than Federal systems.
Mr. ROMERO-BARCELÓ. Right. I do not know. Maybe I am wrong. If I am wrongyou said I am wrong as far as California obviously.
Mr. MURPHY. When I mentioned that new facilities and the rehabilitation facilities are constituted by 80 percent of the priorities it is local governments which make those investments. I do not thinkI would not want to leave the impression with the Subcommittee it is because the States or the territories are not taking care of resources to the extent that they can. Things wear out and they wear out quickly depending on how many people use them. The Federal people have the same dilemmas.
I think we need to understand how manyI mean what the pressures on State and local governments today to pick up more and more cost for things that range frankly from welfare to security to juvenile justice. I mean these are very expensive programs or services where we are in the midst of a great national action to push some of those costs elsewhere. That is, frankly, impacting the money available to take care of public park and recreation resources.
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Dealing in southern California with immigration costs for education, health care and things like that in other parts of the country, that takes money and sometimes that money comes out of State or county park and recreation budgets.
Mr. ROMERO-BARCELÓ. Well, maybe then we should be thinking in terms of providing funding for rehabilitation and maintenance over the existing ones until they get up to a certain level rather than thinking of new acquisitions when the existing ones are not at the level that we should have them.
Mr. MURPHY. Well, under certain circumstances you can use the Land and Water Conservation Fund for rehabilitation if the resources degraded to such a point that it is unserviceable. And our view is that restoration is just as good a conservation initiative as going out and doing something new. It is, and we have not talked much about this, I briefly mentioned the urban park and recreation recovery program which is a non-acquisition program and may apply to the conditions that you have in your area.
Mr. ROMERO-BARCELÓ. What I am trying to point out is perhaps we should be more concerned at this point in time with rehabilitating and putting parks in the proper condition before we think of further acquisitions. I am just evaluating what we should be doing.
Mr. MURPHY. Well, our view is, and this is where the Land and Water Conservation Fund has such beauty, if your community in 1995 has one priority, it may be an opportunity to conserve land, in 1997 it may have a rehabilitation need. In 19 whatever it might have a new cap, a new facility need. So there needs to be flexibility to State and local governments to deal with those priorities recognizing that they will change over time.
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Mr. ROMERO-BARCELÓ. Thank you, my time is up. I am sorry, go ahead.
Ms. BECK. I would just like to comment that it seems the supposition is that the state of the parks you have observed is because of lack of maintenance. It could be from overuse. In the county of Cook outside of Chicago, well, actually Chicago resides in the county, there is a county forest preserve system. The picnic permit program there begins on January 1. They issue the picnic permits for the coming year.
There is a tradition there to have people camp outside of the county building in January in Chicago in order to get picnic permits. That is how scarce the amount of space is and how great the need is.
Mr. HEFLEY. [presiding] Thank you very much. Mr. Delahunt.
Mr. DELAHUNT. I have no questions.
Mr. HANSEN. Mr. Kildee.
Mr. KILDEE. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. My State of Michigan has been a beneficiary of both State grants and the Federal conservation component of the Land and Water Conservation Fund and I think both are extremely important. I do not think it is really a question of playing one against the other although I do know the appropriations for the State grants have been zeroed out.
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But I think that we really have to approach people within the Congress and make sure that they do not zero them out. I think when we set this money aside back in '64, '65, these were earmarked funds and I always felt that like many other of the special funds here that they should be taken totally off budget and used for the purpose for which they were originally intended.
I know that is easier said than done but I really believe that there is so much need in the country, take my own State of Michigan, if we were to take the Land and Water Conservation Fund and each year spend all that was available for both the State grants and the Federal grants that we would still have some unmet needs in the State of Michigan.
We have done a lot with both areas. We have preserved the habitat of the cerulean warbler, which was on the verge of extinction, up there because of this fund. We were able to acquire Grand Island, an island the size of Manhattan Island, which was going to be clear cut by one of the timber companies up there that would acquire that because of this.
And in so many areas it seems to me thatI for years have been in the Congress now, this is my 21st year in Congress, and I have always felt that we should be looking at the needs and having traveled throughout the country, traveled throughout my State, feel that if we were to take this off budget and spend all the money we would still not meet all the needs.
I was sponsor of a bill in Michigan which became law for a bond for recreation purposes, and in that bonding I made sure we had an amendment in that much of it was used for what we call in Michigan up north, but also to acquire land in and near cities for recreation there. I think that is the balance we tried to achieve.
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But, Mr. Murphy, let me ask you, is the real problem with the Land and Water Conservation Fund that Federal agencies are getting too much money or is it that insufficient annual funding puts undue strains on your agency, your State and local colleagues, and your Federal partner to protect the resource lands we so urgently need?
Mr. MURPHY. I certainly do not think the Federal side is getting too much money. It is just that right now the Appropriations Committee has decided not to fund the stateside, it is all of the money is going to one side and not the other, and so what I would argue for is that there is just not enough of the $900 million that is allowed under the law being appropriated for the fund so that there can be better distribution of the funds.
I think the decision in itself is fundamentally unsound and I think it is our responsibility, my responsibility as the leader of Parks and Recreation in the State of California and the stakeholders and the constituency to prevail upon the Members of the Congress to convince them otherwise. We have that job to do and I believe we will be successful but I do not believe that it is that the Federal Government is getting too much. I mean we are talking about a $900 million fund and all of it is going to the Federal side, about $158 million, and that is just patently not fair.
Mr. KILDEE. And I would march with you to the Appropriations Committee to urge that they do that. I think that Congressthe whole Congress is responsible for this. We have to approve all the allocations of funds. But I certainly agree that the States should be getting what is intended to be your allocation when this was set up.
Page 46 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC And I would agree, I do not think we necessarily do that by robbing Peter to pay Paul on this, that we should make sure that both the State allocation and the Federal allocations are addressed. I have asked to be drafted a bill to take the Land and Water Conservation Fund off budget so that money would be used for its intended purpose.
Now I know that that is going to be difficult to pass but I am still getting the bill drafted and I will introduce it. Perhaps it might not take effect right away or it might not pass right away but by the year 2002 we are hopefully going to have the budget balanced and maybe we can start seriously using these funds for the intended purpose. Hopefully we could do it before then but in the meantime I certainly agree with you, Mr. Murphy, that we should be taking care of those State allocations and I will be urging my colleagues in Congress to do that but not at the expense of the Federal allocations, just allocations for both areas. Thank you very much.
Mr. TINDALL. I would just say, Mr. Kildee, we would welcome your march to the Appropriations Committee. But I would hope your route would go through the Budget Committee because the appropriators in this area very legitimately are dealing with a constrained allocation to function 300. In our judgment, this nation with OCS resources ought at minimum to be able to put another $.5 billion into that allocation, another half a billion, with an assumption that that will go to the Land and Water Conservation Fund.
Others will quibble about the amount, but let us start with that and let us convince Mr. Kasich and others that it is in fact good business. We think it will return to the national treasury a great deal of benefit over the long-term.
Page 47 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. KILDEE. I agree. I served on the Budget Committee for six years and I know the budget process very well, but I do know that even within that budget process the Appropriations Committee, when they do sit down making their distribution that there is still a great deal of flexibility there and we used to decry that sometimes but I will certainly go to the Budget Committee too but there is still flexibility when they make those allocations under the Budget Act. Thank you.
Mr. HEFLEY. Does anyone have second round questions that they would like to ask at this time? I would just ask one quick question of the panel and then we will excuse you. We have done a good deal of talking today about the original intent of this legislation. The original intent was for outdoor recreation for all Americans but in recent times with the change in the funding and so forth it seems to bewe seem to be spending the money on habitat preservation.
Now I spoke to a group of environmental groups that were in a convention not too long ago and some in that group said that for the public lands man should not be there at all. In other words, 100 percent preservation, not recreation. Man should not recreate on the public lands.
Now do you all in your positions, particularly you, Mr. Murphy, running a major park system, but do you all find that kind of tension between those two goals?
Mr. MURPHY. Those kinds of tensions have always existed. This argument has raged for years in this country, the preservationist concept versus the conservationist concept. But just let me speak for a minute from my point of view as a park director and someone that has been in this business for 20 years and that is involved in preservation of habitat and natural areas as well as providing outdoor recreation for people.
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For me, this is all about providing connections and what I mean by that is that humanity, human beings, need a connection to their world and to their environment. And to directly answer your question, I do not believe in what I would think is the more extremist point of view of some of my colleagues in the environmental community that man should not be in certain areas.
I think certain areas certainly should be controlled and managed if there are sensitive habitats and perhaps there are certain kinds of activities that should not be allowed. I think that goes without saying. But I also think it is extremely important to recognize that the connections that are provided for human beings through their interaction with the environment is a spiritual and psychological process that binds us to the earth, to the universe, and teaches us things about ourselves and about the world that we would not otherwise understand.
That is why it is important to set aside these areas. My family recreates in the John Meir Wilderness every year. That is our annual trip. And I cannot tell you the bonding that takes place between myself and my children and the spiritual refreshment that accrues as a result of that interaction. For me, that is what it is all about.
So we are conserving and in some cases protecting these areas not only for the sake of the animals and the flora and fauna that we are protecting but also for the sake of the human interaction with these areas as well. And I think that making sure that those connections are provided for is extremely important and I think taking humanity and man out of the equation is a dangerous approach to that. That is my opinion.
Page 49 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. TINDALL. I think, Congressman, that to the extent that you underfund or do not fund the stateside of the Land and Water Conservation Fund, and the States and local governments, you will continue to skew its purposes. In fact, because the State and local governments have focused on access for man and the development of basic facilitiessuch things as wastewater treatment facilities, for example.
You cannot have large numbers of people coming in to natural or naturalistic environments and not provide for basic human services. Trail heads, all of these things that encourage and aid access are eligible for Land and Water Conservation Fund assistance. And that has been the strength and the priority of State and local park and recreation systems from the outset.
Have we purchased a lot of land? Yes, we have purchased a lot of land and some of that is strictly habitat. And some of it is for a quarter acre of land in downtown Chicago or Glenview. We are not prepared to put a weighting or evaluation on projects. One of the greatest Land and Water projects I have ever seen was maybe a tenth of an acre park next to a Russian Orthodox church in Juneau, Alaska.
Anyone can plan a 500-acre park, but to plan a quarter acre, a tenth of an acre park, you have real challenges! So we bring in people. We do not agree that we should lock up land, however you choose to protect it. There are certainly precious, more fragile lands that need to be dealt with very carefully.
But it is interesting. I do not believe that endangered species land acquisition was an eligible activity through the Land and Water Conservation Fund. It was added later, and if you look at how the Fish and Wildlife Service has fared, if you will, after that switch in the law the Fish and Wildlife Service was getting a large percentage of the annual Federal mix of moneys.
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It is not good or bad. It illustrates that we need a recreation resource trust or a revised view of the Land and Water Conservation Fund that provides options for investment in rational land uses and land conservation.
Mr. COVE. As my colleagues mentioned, obviously this tension has gone on for some time but even in the recreation industry we regard it as a good tension. It is not bad as historic arguments go on and frankly even some of my colleagues in industry, if they went too far on the people side it would be bad for business.
The habitat preservation is a fundamental element of the outdoor experience. Whether you step in it or walk in it, at some point you appreciate it, value it, and live off of it because if you do not preserve the habitat the quality of the outdoor experience will be diminished over time. So it is a tension that we have no problem with addressing on a regular basis and would hope that it would continue to be there.
Ms. BECK. I also believe that there is not one simple answer. It complicates management of a site. We have eight threatened and endangered species on 123 acres in a large urban area and we have been able to manage both public access and habitat and species preservation at the same time.
I do not know what the future holds. I think there are some areas where the public intrusion might in a specific case be endangerous to some species but certainly the vast majority is really just a management issue and a careful management issue.
Page 51 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. HEFLEY. Thank you very much. We appreciate your participation this morning. It has been very helpful. Our second panel is made up of Katherine Stevenson, Associate Director of the National Park Service. Good morning and welcome, and we will turn the time over to you.
STATEMENT OF KATHERINE STEVENSON, ASSOCIATE DIRECTOR, NATIONAL PARK SERVICE
Ms. STEVENSON. Thank you very much. Thank you very much for inviting me to testify. I have a written statement I would like to be entered into the record, please.
Mr. HEFLEY. Without objection.
Ms. STEVENSON. Thank you very much. The Land and Water stateside has a truly unique legacy in the history of American conservation and recreation. After the passage of the Act in 1964, more than $3.2 billion in Federal assistance has been invested in some 300,000 sites and 37,000 projects. I should say that this amount, as the people who have spoken before I have, has been matched so that something like $6.5 billion has been invested in park and recreation on the Federal and stateside.
Appropriation levels peaked in the late 1970's reaching almost $370 million in 1979. In more recent years, appropriation levels ranged in the mid to low $20 million range. In fiscal year 1996 the Administration proposed funding in the amount of $25 million. The Congress appropriated zero dollars.
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The report language that year said no funds are provided for new grants and the managers intend that no funds will be provided in the future. Following that lead, in 1997 the Administration requested nothing for the program and Congress appropriated nothing. That was in keeping with the Administration's ongoing efforts to balance the budget as well as the direction of the Congress.
There are no funds proposed for fiscal year 1998, nor are there any plans to request funds in the foreseeable future. In the report language accompanying the 1997 appropriation, Congress indicated that we should use the administrative funds for the closeout of the State grants program. In just a few minutes, I am going to talk about that closeout but for now I would like to look at the rewards of a truly visionary program.
The facilities that the $6.5 billion bought are just on the street, across town in the intercity, in virtually every nook and cranny of our country. The parks and projects serve every segment of the public. Millions of Americans have walked, jogged, picnicked, hiked, biked, fished, hunted, golfed, or played ball in at least one of these areas. These are the destination parks for families of campers and hikers, parks where kids learn baseball and swimming and appreciation of nature.
Clearly, the Land and Water Fund has had a broad impact on outdoor America. As a result of the Act and its funding, States bought land and improved recreation areas. They also established their own scenic river and recreational trail systems and created new State programs to enhance recreation opportunities.
Page 53 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC The $6.5 billion was well invested, very well invested, and protections were put in place to protect that taxpayer investment. With Section 6(f) of the Act Congress guaranteed that all property acquired or developed with this money must be maintained in perpetuity for public recreational use regardless of future funding efforts. Of course, as needs changed conversions are permitted when the property is replaced with another of at least equal fair market value and usefulness.
The approval of these conversions and the protection of the Federal investment is an essential role played by the National Park Service in concert with the States. As we move out to close out the grants project selection, we will also establish an ongoing process to protect the properties in the long-term.
At the direction of Congress to close down the grant process, we are planning to terminate the obligation process by August 30, 1997. All active projects with unexpended balances will be terminated on September 30, 2000. We then plan to expend our energies on the protection of the 30,000 assisted sites with a much reduced but committed grant staff.
We believe very strongly in the legacy of the Land and Water Conservation Fund and we are doing our best to protect that investment. Thank you very much. I will be happy to answer any questions you may have.
[Statement of Ms. Stevenson may be found at end of hearing.]
Mr. HEFLEY. Thank you, Ms. Stevenson. I asked the question of the other panel, let me ask it of you. Do you think that the funds from this fund should be able to be used for other things other than acquisition, in other words, for infrastructure, operation, those kinds of things?
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Ms. STEVENSON. I think repair for sites, particularly those purchased with Land and Water money or assisted originally is a very good idea. I think if we get into maintenance with this money, as I think one of the previous witnesses called it a black hole, and I think that is probably true. I think it is an expenditure that no one could support.
Mr. HEFLEY. The Administration has stated that funding for the highestthat it is seeking funding for the highest priority projects and has no funds to seek, no plans to seek funds for the State Land and Water Conservation Program in the foreseeable future. Let us consider a minute the Administration's request for the funds for the Appalachian Trail land acquisition. This year you have requested an additional $4.2 million and in '95 the Administration spent $4.2 million to protect a total of two miles of trail for an average cost of over $2 million per mile.
In fact, in 1995 the Administration purchased land in seven States which the trail does not even cross. Now are these the high priority types of things you are talking about and how many such high priority Federal needs are there which are more important than the State needs?
Ms. STEVENSON. I am not at all familiar with the land acquisition for the Appalachian Trail so I cannot comment on that. But what we do face is opportunities where willing sellers within authorized boundaries for national parks are wanting to sell land that we believe is very crucial to the protection of the park. Those are the vast majority of the funds that we are asking Congress for. And those are usually the projects that we hear most from congressional Members about why aren't we protecting significant battlefield lands, why aren't we protecting significant wildlife habitat within national parks.
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And, you know, it is a very difficult balance. I cannot say that any one of these, and I think the panel is really in the same position, it is a very difficult balance between significant lands authorized within parks and significant lands used for recreation purposes on the stateside. The Congress has a very tough row to hoe. I do not envy you in trying to make choices between what things to fund and what not to fund.
Mr. HEFLEY. Thank you very much. The gentleman from American Samoa.
Mr. FALEOMAVAEGA. Thank you, and welcome, Ms. Stevenson, before the Subcommittee. I am just trying to see if I get the picture properly here. We have just had members from our community testifying that it is a disaster on the part of the Congress and the Administration not to provide funding for this very important program, yet on behalf of the Administration are you just simply following because the Congress definitely has a position that they do not want to fund this program anymore or do you feel that you are in agreement with the position that the Congress now takes in view of the funding aspects of the program?
Ms. STEVENSON. As I said before, it is not an easy balance. The Administration is trying very, very hard to balance the budget from its end. In order to do that, we have to make choices. The Land and Water Fund is a very significant program, always has been a significant program, but we are faced with having to make choices of where to spend the very limited funds, where to ask Congress for money.
In those cases, we have come down on the side of asking for money particularly within authorized boundaries of parks and of course other Federal lands. It is not an easy choice. That is not to say that we do not believe that this is a terrific program. We do. And we know the States have terrible needs but we are sort of stuck as you all are.
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Mr. FALEOMAVAEGA. So basically in terms of priorities realizing also that $900 million is not chicken feed as far as trying to provideI want to ask another related question to this. The Congress on a bipartisan basis established this fund. It was not called a trust fund, it was a set aside and whatever funds or money that we got from these sales of the oil and gas leases which amounts to about $900 million was to go to the Land and Water Conservation Fund.
We are about to debate a very interesting position now taken by the Administration. This involves the State Department, and the State Department is now proposing that we are going to charge every American that calls in for passport information and by getting this amount of money which the State Department expects to obtain about $595 million to assist in offsetting some of its resource needs within the agency or within the Department of State and it is going to be an interesting debate in the Congress whether or not this is the proper way that we go about funding or provide funds for agency activities.
And in a similar fashion I notice that we did this previously in setting aside this $900 million trust fund. We have expended over $3 billion in the last 30 years and of course we can give the numbers to justify the fact that this was a very successful program as far as the States and territories are concerned.
My question is should the Congress allow this kind of thing, to allow each agency to go ahead and make charges and then reprogram the money for agency use and the Congress should not have any say on how that money should be utilized?
Page 57 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Ms. STEVENSON. As you know, we have a fee program in national parks and we are convinced that Americans who want to use national parks are willing and excited about paying fees that the money stays in the national parks. In terms of the $900 million when you talk to Members of Congress who are on the Budget Committee what they say is it is all money. It does not matter whether it was set aside, we use it for offset of the budget, of the deficit.
And certainly esoteric kind of discussion is above my head, I have to admit, but I believe it is all money they say and so it is hard to set aside for any individual purpose. And I think I will reserve my comments on the State Department.
Mr. FALEOMAVAEGA. So as a matter of our national policy basically despite the concerns that have been expressed earlier by some of our leading citizens out there in the country it seems that basically as far as the Congress and the Administration is concerned the Land and Water Conservation Fund is axed.
Ms. STEVENSON. It seems so, sir.
Mr. FALEOMAVAEGA. Simply because of higher priorities.
Ms. STEVENSON. Yes, sir.
Mr. FALEOMAVAEGA. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. HEFLEY. The gentleman from Massachusetts.
Page 58 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. DELAHUNT. Historically, the Land and Water Fund received about $900 million annually?
Ms. STEVENSON. No. Actually I have a copy and I will be happy to provide for the record the list of all the appropriations year by year.
Mr. DELAHUNT. I am talking about receipts.
Ms. STEVENSON. Oh, receipts. I believe that is correct.
Mr. DELAHUNT. Thenoh, can thisyou have the last two or three fiscal years. How much is going to the Federal side?
Ms. STEVENSON. Federal side, total bureaus in 1996 was $138 million.
Mr. DELAHUNT. And how much stateside?
Ms. STEVENSON. That year was zero.
Mr. DELAHUNT. That year was zero?
Ms. STEVENSON. 1996 was zero.
Mr. DELAHUNT. So the remaining, subtract $138 million from that $900 million, went to the deficit reduction.
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Ms. STEVENSON. That is right.
Mr. DELAHUNT. And has that been in the past two or three years?
Ms. STEVENSON. When you say past two or three, if you are saying 1995 there was $216 million that went to the Federal side and that year there were $25 million in State grants rounded up. And then the balance went to deficit reduction.
Mr. DELAHUNT. So the reality is that for some time now that $900 million has beenwe have been underpaying
Ms. STEVENSON. That is correct.
Mr. DELAHUNT. [continuing]purposes that wouldwe were provided for the
Ms. STEVENSON. The highest appropriation I believe was in 1978, which was $805 million stateside and $681I am sorry, I am not right there. That was $175 million to State grants. But I would be happy to provide this for the record. You can look at it.
Mr. DELAHUNT. Maybe you could help me with this. Could you just walk through how you plan to close out the State and what's involved here?
Ms. STEVENSON. Yes. This year
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Mr. DELAHUNT. Let me just add one other question. I presume that you are working in individual States with this close-out thing?
Ms. STEVENSON. Yes, we are workingactually we are working with NUSARLO, which is the organization of States so that we have a single contact, but what we plan to do is terminate the obligation process, which means we will not be obligating any more funds as of August 30, 1997. And then that gives the States from then until the year 2000 to get rid of any unexpended balances, anything that they might have on the books from a project that has failed or something that is not doing very well that they can shore up, get a match, whatever is necessary. And that will be all done by September 30, 2000. So that is pretty much a three-year process for them to totally get rid of all of theexpend all of the money that is on their books right now.
Mr. DELAHUNT. Thank you.
Ms. STEVENSON. You are welcome.
Mr. HEFLEY. Thank you, Ms. Stevenson. We appreciate you being here and it has been helpful. Thank you very much.
Ms. STEVENSON. Thank you so much.
Mr. HEFLEY. The committee stands adjourned.
Page 61 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC [Whereupon, at 10:50 a.m., the Subcommittee was adjourned; and the following was submitted for the record:]
TESTIMONY OF DONALD W. MURPHY, DIRECTOR, CALIFORNIA DEPARTMENT OF PARKS AND RECREATION; AND PRESIDENT, NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF STATE OUTDOOR RECREATION LIAISON OFFICERS
It is a privilege to be here today to talk about the vital importance of the Land and Water Conservation Fund for state and local outdoor programs.
By way of introduction, let me tell you that I sit here wearing several hats. In 1991, Governor Pete Wilson appointed me Director of California State Parks, the nation's largest state park system, with more than 1.3 million acres and a budget of approximately $180 million. I have been with California State Parks since I entered as a park ranger cadet in 1980.
Additionally, I serve as president of the National Association for State Outdoor Recreation Liaison Officers commonly referred to as NASORLO, the organization of those state officials whose responsibility it is to apportion LWCF moneys in their respective states.
Lastly, I am a co-chair of Americans for our Heritage and Recreation, a newly formed coalition of LWCF stakeholders dedicated to securing more stable funding for conservation and outdoor recreation. This new organization represents a broad spectrum of individuals and ideas, from the Wilderness Society to the Sporting Goods Manufacturing Association, brought together with the realization that the restoration of LWCF for its original intention is vital for a better America.
Page 62 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC This is what I want you to understand from me today. A program that has worked so well for so many years has gotten so far off track we need to get a crane to put it back in place.
I am not here to denigrate the federal funding side of the LWCF in favor of the state funding side. The two are necessary parts of a whole, and one should not exist without the other. But since I was invited here to speak on the importance of the stateside funding, I wish to confine my remarks to that area.
When the Land and Water Conservation Fund became law in 1965, this was its statement of purpose:
''The purposes of this part are to assist in preserving, developing, and assuring accessibility to all citizens of the United States of America, of present and future generations, and visitors who are lawfully present within the boundaries of the United States of America, such quality and quantity of outdoor recreation resources as may be available and are necessary and desirable for individual active participation in such recreation, and to strengthen the health and vitality of the citizens of the United States by (1) providing funds for, and authorizing federal assistance to, the States in planning, acquisition, and development of needed land and water areas and facilities, and (2) providing funds for the Federal acquisition and development of certain lands and other areas.''
The last portion of this statement is most important for my purposes here today. As the law was written, one of the first principles behind the Land and Water Conservation Fund is assistance to the states. This need was widely recognized on both sides of the aisle, and in prior Republican and Democratic administrations.
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In the years following this Act's passage, the states benefited greatly from the LWCF. But with the coming of the 1980s, this changed dramatically. Support for state and local programs plummeted. In the last two fiscal years, there were no LWCF appropriations for state and local matching grants.
California is a case in point. In the 1970s, the Golden State benefited greatly from the LWCF averaging a little more than $11 million each year. Since then, however, funding dropped as quickly as a rock off the Golden Gate Bridge. In the 1980s, the average LWCF annual appropriation for California fell to less than $7 million.
So far this decade, we've fared even worse, averaging about $1.4 millionthat's a mere 10 percent of the funding we received in the 1970s.
The negligence is as bipartisan as the creation of the act itself, and spans administrations of both parties.
In the meantime in California, our population has increased, placing even more pressure not just on the 264 units of our beautiful State Park system, but on regional and local parks as well. Increased population means more demand for more parks.
California is not unique in this. Attendance in state parks around the country rose by more than 30 million annually between 1987 and 1992. In his 1995 report to Congress on the LWCF, National Park Service Director Roger Kennedy pointed this out well. He wrote:
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''States continue to support this program and depend on its annual apportionment to supplement existing funding sources in providing recreation opportunities to their communities. In many local instances it constitutes the only means of financing much-needed recreational opportunities for its populace, including youth-at-risk, senior citizens, the economically disadvantaged, and those with disabilities.''
There are many debates in these corridors, and even in this subcommittee, about the role of federal government in preserving public lands. We experience this in Sacramento as well, I assure you.
In another way, therefore, I can't stress enough the importance of LWCF for states and local communities. In short, it gives more power to the people, by placing the funds closer to home. Here in Washington, you refer to it as ''states' rights.'' Thousands of miles west of here, at the state Capitol, they refer to it as ''local control.''
The benefits of this are numerous. More people are involved in the decision-making. Communities must match the LWCF grant, so they have incentive and a goal that can be attained. In many areas, problems in a state or community are best answered by those who live in that state or community.
In its day, the LWCF has built ballparks in urban settings like Oakland, it acquired Martin Luther King, Jr.'s boyhood home in Atlanta, and it helped finish off the Appalachian Trail. Over the life of the program, stateside funding has financed more than 8,500 acquisition projects covering more than 2.3 million acres, and funded 28,000 outdoor recreational facility developments.
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Thirty some-odd years ago, the creation of the Land and Water Conservation Fund was a bipartisan measure, and that makes sense even today. It's an issue that's broad enough for all to accept, and one that crosses many boundaries. That's why such a broad coalition has come together, as I said earlier, to work for it.
The restoration of state and local LWCF funding should be an easy decision for you, and it is an easy decision that will immediately show many rewards throughout the country. There is no controversy in restoring state and local support in LWCF, but I can assure you there will be if this noble effort is abandoned.
As this own subcommittee's oversight plan states, ''the need for public outdoor recreation space is greatest in urban and suburban areas of this country. For these reasons, continued exclusive focus on federal land acquisition cannot be justified.''
I couldn't have said it better myself. Thank you very much.
STATEMENT OF THOMAS COVE, VICE PRESIDENT OF GOVERNMENT RELATIONS, SPORTING GOODS MANUFACTURERS ASSOCIATION
Good morning, Mr. Chairman. My name is Thomas Cove and I am Vice President of the Sporting Goods Manufacturers Association (SGMA). SGMA is the national trade association for producers and distributors of athletic equipment, footwear and apparel.
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I welcome the opportunity to testify this morning and commend the Committee for its decision to hold a hearing on the stateside of the Land and Water Conservation Fund. My industry and the broader recreation community are encouraged by the attention this hearing brings to this important program.
In 1994, I was honored to serve on the National Park Service Review Committee for the Land and Water Conservation Fund. I understand our report has been made available to the Resources CommitteeI urge you to look at it closely as it represents the results of countless hours of discussion and consensus building. As the sole industry representative on the review committee, I was extremely impressed by the caliber of my colleagues and new thinking they brought to problems facing the stateside of the Land and Water Fund. I continue to endorse the report's basic finding, namely, that a reinvigoration of the LWCF vision, whether in its current programmatic form or otherwise, is vitally needed in order for the country to save its cherished heritage of open spaces and parks.
Within my industry, we regard the experience of a well-funded stateside Land and Water Conservation Fund to be a demonstrable success. The Fund allowed a great diversity of land to be protected and created a significant inventory of recreational opportunities for citizens in every state. Thousands of local parks and facilities were developed under the state assistance program, providing tangible and intangible benefits to generations of Americans. Not insignificantly, beyond the actual funds it provided, the Fund's incentives created countless partnerships that have resulted in innovative programs to protect habitat, preserve historic sites and provide recreation.
Page 67 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC The Land and Water Conservation Fund was a promise made to the American people beginning in 1965 that has delivered a return on investment that any Wall Street financier would be proud to call his/her own.
Sadly, much of the promise was broken in recent years when funding for the stateside of the Fund was cut substantially, to the point of its virtual elimination today.
We strongly urge the Committee to take action to revitalize the LWCF ideal. Technical and financial assistance to state and local conservation and recreation has a long history of bipartisan support. The program was recommended by the Outdoor Recreation Resources Review Commission in the 1960's, President Reagan's Commission on Americans Outdoors in the 1980's, and the National Park Service Review Committee in 1994 and yet today is threatened with extinction.
Let me take a moment to highlight our view of the value of the state assistance program.
State and local parks are where the vast majority of Americans recreate day in and day out. Though most Americans might love to visit our showcase national parks regularly, they are unable to for reasons of economics, geography, or competing leisure alternatives. Most Americans recreate close to home, in local, regional and state parks. Whether for toddlers in a playground, teenagers on a ball field, or senior citizens on a nature trail, easily accessible recreation opportunities contribute significantly to quality of life for individuals, families and communities across the country.
Page 68 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Participation in recreation is valued not just for enjoyment but because Americans know it leads to improved physical and mental health, better appreciation of nature and the environment, and stronger, shared values.
Providing recreation opportunities close to home is more imperative than ever. In its research report titled Recreation in the New Millennium, the Recreation Roundtable found that the greatest barrier to participation in outdoor recreation in America in 1995 was lack of discretionary time. Twice as many people cited time versus money as a major hurdle to outdoor recreation participation. Local recreation alternatives speak directly to Americans' need to carve more time out of the day.
At the same time, the quality of recreation experiences in critical areas is diminishing. In the same Recreation Roundtable study, Americans living in large, urban areas are, as a group, the least satisfied with their recreation opportunities. The study also found that residents of America's largest metropolitan areas participate on average in fewer recreation activities and on a less frequent basis than other Americans.
A 1995 Washington Post article, entitled ''No Place to Play'', recounts the tragic story of two young girls who died after playing in an abandoned car in Southeast Washington. The underlying theme of the story, as articulated by many residents of the girls' neighborhood, was the lack of opportunities for local children to recreate in a safe, enjoyable way. Too often this is a way of life in low-income urban neighborhoods.
Images of unscathed community gardens and parks located next to torched buildings and looted businesses in the aftermath of the 1992 Los Angeles riots illustrate the value urban communities place on protected open spaces.
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In suburban America, conflicts over usage of parks and open space are increasingly commonplace. At the beginning of every season, soccer and football league administrators do battle over access to precious fields. Primary school parents view junior high and high school sports programs as a threat to their children's ability to get field time. Women's sports proponents are becoming more vocal, appropriately so, about receiving their fair share of choice locations and practice times.
Lack of fields, courts and facilities can limit the number of young people who are given the opportunity to play sports. Rarely are the ones who miss out the elite athletes, but more likely the intramural player for whom hurdles to participation become quickly insurmountable.
Privately owned fee-based facilities are springing up to meet the need for recreation. While these first-class complexes of sport fields and support facilities can and do deliver quality services, we should not allow personal financial resources to determine citizens basic access to recreation.
At the same time, there are almost daily reports about the negative health consequences of America's sedentary lifestyle. Just last Friday, the government's Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that, due to inactivity and overeating, 35 percent of the country's adults and 13 percent of our children weigh dangerously more than they should. This is the most overweight the nation has been since the government began compiling statistics in the 1960's. According to the National Task Force on the Prevention and Treatment of Obesity, the economic costs of obesity in the United States exceed $68 billion annually. The need to make recreation alternatives available to all Americans is good public policy.
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I do not want to leave the impression that the LWCF is, or should be, simply a funding vehicle to provide safe, affordable recreation opportunities. I have focused on the recreation issues because I know them better, but any discussion of LWCF must include its fundamental conservation legacy. The protection of threatened land and water resources remains a central and essential basis for the fund.
Development pressures in urban, suburban and exurban America are well documented. The U.S. Department of Agriculture found that the amount of developed land in the United States increased by 14 million acres between 1982 and 1992. According to National Growth Management Leadership Project, during the last twenty years in the New York metropolitan area population grew by 8 percent while amount of urbanized land increased by 65 percent. During the same period, population in Seattle grew by 38 percent but the amount of urban area grew by 87 percent. In Denver, projections tell the same story.
Many wildlife and plant resources are threatened by this development. Strapped state and local budgets limit options to address habitat degradation. Hundreds of non-game species will benefit if action is taken before the need for threatened or endangered designations. An appropriately funded Land and Water Conservation Fund would offer real potential to protect important natural settings.
Of further concern is the possibility that we are bringing up generations of Americans who have no connection to the wonders of our country's vast natural legacy. The future policy implications of having large numbers of citizens with no hands-on contact with nature and conservation are scary. Both for our industry and for the country.
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Looking forward, I offer several recommendations for consideration. First, the Fund clearly needs to be modified to allow states and localities greater flexibility to take action. Devolution requires the ability for states and localities to adapt a program to locally developed and implemented priorities. Second, the equity of private land owners must be respected. Third, federal-state-local partnerships as well as public-private collaborations should be encouraged. LWCF regulations should be amended to facilitate such partnerships. Fourth, oversight and administration of the program should be raised to the Department of Interior level. Its current status within the National Park Service does not serve the program or NPS well.
The theoretical premise of dedicating royalty income from depletion of a non-renewable resource for investment in protection of a different precious resource remains strong and valid. It should be maintained if at all possible.
Having participated in policy battles on Land and Water Fund for several years now, I must be clear that as much as my industry values the potential of an appropriately funded stateside fund, we do not advocate draining the federal account to increase stateside appropriations. We understand the significant budget constraints facing this Congress but believe a full investment in both federal and stateside accounts will reap fully justifiable dividends for generations to come. The 1994 report eloquently captures the vision we endorse, '' We envision a network of parks, preserves, open spaces, greenways and recreation sites and centers stretching across this nation, touching all communities, and accessible to all Americans.'' It is a noble and appropriate vision, and it will only take hold with a long term commitment of resources.
Thank you for the opportunity to share my industry's views. I am happy to answer any questions the Committee might have.
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TESTIMONY OF JUDY BECK, COMMISSIONER, GLENVIEW PARK DISTRICT; PAST PRESIDENT OF THE ILLINOIS ASSOCIATION OF PARK DISTRICTS
Mr. Chairman, Members of the Subcommittee:
Thank you for allowing me the opportunity to speak to you today about a program that is near and dear to my community . . . a federal program that really works . . . a federal program that has changed the landscape of my town and perhaps many in America.
My name is Judy Beck, I have been an elected park commissioner in Glenview, Illinois, for 18 years. I am one of 2,100 elected in our state who serve without compensation. I have been president of our park district three times and am a recent past president of our state organization, the Illinois Association of Park Districts. As a local government official, I would like to speak today on behalf of restoring funding for the local grant portion of the Land and Water Conservation Fund. A commitment by Congress that is fundamental to the protection of recreational opportunities for all Americans.
We at the local level are most certainly aware of the need to contain spending. We face on a much smaller scale, the same issue that you do. However, you should be aware that the local need for parks and open space cannot be achieved without the partnership of the federal government. A partnership that has had a long history of success.
Page 73 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC My objective this morning is to speak specifically to that portion of the Land and Water Conservation Fund which had been devoted to enhancing outdoor recreation opportunities at the local level for Americans since 1965. Unfortunately, it is also the portion of the program which has been most drastically eroded during the past decade.
The irony of this weakening federal commitment to the stateside funding component of LWCF for ''close to home park sites'' and recreational opportunities is that this is one of the most efficient and effective of all federal grant programs. Nationwide, since the program's inception, over $3.2 billion in federal seed money has been matched for a total investment of $6.4 billion to develop nearly 27,000 state, county and city park and recreation facilities and acquire 2.3 million acres of park land and open space.
In Illinois the state's existing public recreation lands and facilities are inadequate to meet the needs of our 11.5 million people. Less than 4% of Illinois' land is in public recreation and conservation use. Although Illinois is recognized as a leader with regard to its recreation distribution systems, intense competition for land brought about by urban sprawl and an agricultural economy severely limits the ability of local and state government to afford the increasing demands for public open space and recreation lands. Without increased and stable federal funding, opportunities to protect quality outdoor recreation lands and pristine natural areas in Illinois for future generations will be lost forever.
The Land and Water Conservation Fund program, as originally set forth and funded through the late 60's and 70's, accomplished significant results in Illinois as well as throughout the country. More than 900 state and local park and conservation projects totaling more than $290 million in value were funded in Illinois. This year, communities are seeking $24 million in assistance to enable them to carry out much needed projects. The needs . . . the demands . . . obviously are there . . . but the money is not. Increased funding for the LWCF stateside program is critical to meeting Illinois' close-to-home park and recreational needs.
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In Glenview, a suburb north of Chicago, we have been very fortunate. We have just received reimbursement for (what I hope is not one of the last) Land and Water Conservation Fund projects in Illinois.
Let me briefly tell you about the Glenview Park District and the ''Grove''. The Glenview Park Dlsttict is a separate unit of local government authorized by state statute that encompasses all of the Village of Glenview and parts of five other surrounding villages and unincorporated Cook County, with an approximate population of 50,000. We have independent taxing capabilities for open space and recreation, the limits of which have been ''capped'' by our state General Assembly. By design, as much as 60% of our budgeted income is from fees and charges.
The challenge in Glenview, indeed in all of Northeastern Illinois, is to provide for open space and recreation in a highly populated area, with a strong economy driving up land values. To illustrate that, undeveloped land is so expensive that it is priced by the square foot, not by the acre.
I'd like to share with you the outstanding results of the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) Local Grant Program as it has been applied in our community. ''The Grove'' is a 123 acre nature preserve and center, and national historic landmark that was the home of Robert Kennicott, the western most natural scientist for the Smithsonian Institution, the discoverer of dozens of species, plants and animals (many of which remain on this site today) and one of the early explorers of Alaska.
Page 75 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC In 1975, LWCF money was used as a part of a million dollar package to purchase 82 acres and Robert Kennicott's homestead. Money from LWCF was leveraged with state and local public funds as well as private contributions.
In 1995, LWCF dollars were again used with state, local and private funds to add 41 adjacent acres owned by the John C. and Catherine T. Mac Arthur Foundation. As a result of the LWCF grant, our agency was able to reunite parcels that were once part of the original Kennicott's Grove. LWCF, and Illinois funding through its Open Space Land Acquisition and Development (OSLAD) Grant Program each contributed $400,000 toward the total purchase price of $2.275 million. The Mac Arthur Foundation contributed $400,000, the Local Grove Support Organization contributed $575,000, and the Glenview Park District contributed $500,000 to reach the total. It was LWCF and OSLAD's participation that leveraged the foundation and the local support to help us meet our goal.
Today the Grove is a vital part of our community. Approximately 75,000 school children visit the Grove, and total annual attendance is about 500,000. This is a clear measurement, but just one example, of the success of LWCF spending.
I testify before you today because I believe in the value that parks and recreation adds to the lives of all Americans. I have seen the impact of suburban sprawl in the Chicago suburbs and the tremendous brownscape problems in the city. I have also seen firsthand that stateside LWCF funding is a stimulus to acquiring additional monies for investment in our parks. This funding does more than provide opportunities for fun and games, it impacts youth at risk and crime prevention, health care cost reductions, economic growth, urban revitalization, and promotes a tremendous sense of family and community pride.
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Today I'm asking for your assistance and commitment to provide funding for the stateside component of LWCF. I assure you that your commitment will be recognized by the unseen future generations of Americans who will commend you for your foresight.
Mr. Chairman, thank your for opportunity to bring the open space concerns of Illinois to the members of the subcommittee.
STATEMENT BY KATHERINE STEVENSON, ASSOCIATE DIRECTOR, CULTURAL RESOURCE STEWARDSHIP AND PARTNERSHIPS, NATIONAL PARK SERVICE, DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR
Mr. Chairman and members of the Subcommittee, I appreciate the opportunity to testify on one of the National Park Service's important partnership programs, the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) state grant-in-aid program.
As you travel across the country, in your State and in your District, many of the park sites you visit, from the smallest inner-city athletic field to the greatest expanses of wilderness, have a common link: the LWCF program. Given available resources, however, the Administration and Congress have decided to focus LWCF funding on top-priority Federal acquisitions for parks, forests, refuges and public lands. The LWCF State grants assistance program was not funded for Fiscal Years 1996 and 1997. In keeping with the Administration's ongoing efforts to balance the budget, funding was not proposed for FY 1998 nor are there plans to request any new grant appropriations in the foreseeable future. Instead, the Administration proposes funding for the most critical projects needed to protect resources or improve management of authorized parks and other areas.
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The unique place of the LWCF in America's conservation and recreation legacy can be better understood through a quick review of its origins.
During the Eisenhower Administration, increasing consciousness of public health and environmental issues and an expanding need for recreational space resulted in the creation of the Outdoor Recreation Resources Review Commission (ORRRC) in 1958.
After three years of research, the bipartisan Commission developed specific recommendations for a national recreation program. The ORRRC report emphasized that State, local, and the Federal governments and the private sector were key elements in the total effort to make outdoor recreation opportunities widely available.
Largely as a result of ORRRC's work, the Land and Water Conservation Fund Act was passed and signed into law on September 3, 1964, as Public Law 88-578. The Act established a funding source for both Federal acquisition of park and recreation lands and matching grants to state and local governments for recreation planning, acquisition and development. It set requirements for state planning and provided a formula for apportioning annual LWCF appropriations to the States and Territories.
The Act reflects two historic principles:
(1) to provide predictable annual funding for high priority capital investments that help ensure conservation of our nation's natural resources and our ability to meet recreation needs, not only for the immediate present, but for future generations as well; and
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(2) to reinvest a significant portion of Federal returns from exploitation of one key natural resource, the mineral products removed from the Outer Continental Shelf areas, in conservation of other key natural resources, namely public parks, wildlife habitats and other recreation resources.
By incorporating these principles, the LWCF Act became a model for resource conservation programs in many jurisdictions around the country.
Several increases in the fund culminated with enactment of P.L. 95-42 in June 1977, which raised the authorization level of the Fund to $900 million for FY 1978 and subsequent years. The increases in the Fund's authorization over the years reflected Congress' understanding that the needs for the Fund had expanded in three ways: the State grant program needed to give more emphasis to urban parks and recreation areas; the grant program should help acquire and develop recreation facilities within urban areas; and the Federal side of the Fund program needed to contribute to meeting close-to-home recreation needs. The appropriations authority under the original LWCF Act was extended through 2015 with the enactment of P.L. 100-203.
Since 1965, funding for the grants program has averaged approximately $105 million per year. Recently, the annual appropriations have been below this average: The FY 1995 appropriation totalled $24.7 million, and in FY 1996 and 1997, the appropriation for new grants was zero.
Initially, three sources of revenue to the fund were designated: proceeds from sales of surplus Federal real property, motorboat fuel taxes and fees for recreation use of Federal lands. The level of funding from FY 1966 through FY 1968 reached about $100 million per year, which was far short of Congress' expectations. To remedy this shortfall, it was proposed that Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) mineral leasing receipts be tapped. In 1968, P.L. 90-401 raised the Fund's level to $200 million a year for five years making OCS revenues available to cover the difference between this minimum level and receipts from other sources.
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LWCF Grant Process
Simply put, the LWCF grant program is a State-driven grant program. Each State receives a share of each annual appropriation called an ''apportionment''. This apportionment is made by the Secretary and is based on a legislative formula. Through a statewide planning process prescribed by the Act, each State, in concert with its local jurisdictions and subdivisions, establishes state priorities which serves to target the expenditures where the recipients, not the federal government, feel that it is needed most.
Grants are made on a matching basis of no more than 50 percent for the acquisition and development of public outdoor recreation areas and facilities.
LWCF Program Accomplishments
For the LWCF State grants program, over $3.2 billion have been appropriated to the 50 States, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Guam, the Virgin Islands, American Samoa, and the Northern Marianas for planning, acquisition and development of outdoor recreation opportunities in the United States.
Through FY 1995, a total of 37,300 projects have been approved to support the acquisition of open space for park lands or the development of outdoor recreation facilities. The Federal share of $3.2 billion has been matched by State and local contributions, for a total LWCF grant investment of over $6.5 billion. States have received about 8,200 grants and counties some 4,800, while cities, towns and other local agencies matched more than 24,000 grants.
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Of the total number of projects, about 10,000 have helped States and localities to acquire some 2.3 million acres of park land. Almost 27,000 projects have been for the development of outdoor recreation facilities. Seventy-five percent of the total funds obligated have gone to locally sponsored projects to provide close-to-home recreation opportunities that are readily accessible to America's youth, adults, senior citizens and the physically or mentally challenged.
These facilities are down the street, across town, in the inner city, they're in virtually every nook and cranny of our country and serve every segment of the public. Millions of Americans and visitors to this country have walked, jogged, picnicked, hiked, biked, fished, hunted golfed, or hit a ball in at least one of these areas. These are the destination State parks for families of campers and hikers; parks where kids learn baseball and how to swim; parks where grade school classes visit nature centers.
The Legacies of LWCF
From a historical perspective, the LWCF has contributed significantly to the outdoor recreation estate over its 30 years of existence. With funding ranging from several thousand dollars for picnic areas to millions for new national and state park lands, conservation areas and recreation facilities, the LWCF has had broad impact on outdoor America. Significant also is that a considerable amount of the income going to the Fund has come about through the leasing of offshore mineral rights, thus recycling an important natural resource back to public use. While one non-renewable resource is being used another is being protected.
Page 81 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC It is important to note that, in addition to the large number of projects, LWCF grants have had substantial long-term effects on our overall attitudes and policies toward outdoor recreation. The first legacy of this kind is the notion, basic to the LWCF Act, that States must assume a leadership role as providers of recreation opportunities.
Today, there is clear evidence that the LWCF program has resulted in States taking greater responsibility for the protection and development of recreation resources at every level. The results of State leadership extend beyond simple increases in the size and number of recreation areas. Among other things, they include State actions to establish scenic river and recreational trail systems, to capitalize on the value of recreation resources in stimulating tourism and other economic opportunities, and to provide additional financial and technical assistance to local recreation efforts through State planning, grant, and loan programs.
Second, when the Fund was established, State recreation planning was essentially non-existent. Statewide recreation planning has given States and their citizens new tools to analyze recreation needs and alternatives in a systematic and responsive way. Indeed, many states now require that local governments develop recreation plans as a condition for any type of Federal or State recreation assistance.
The third legacy is our fiduciary responsibility. Section 6(f)(3) of the Act that requires all property acquired or developed with LWCF assistance must be maintained perpetually in public outdoor recreation use. Section 6(f)(3) is the cornerstone of the local/State/Federal partnership and provides assurance that, regardless of future funding levels, each one of the sites receiving assistance under this program is protected and will remain in public park and recreation use in perpetuity. This provision has immeasurable impact on long-term protection of recreation resources.
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Section 6(f) is strong. This provision reduces the temptation to use LWCF-assisted park lands as a ''cheap'' or ''convenient'' land-bank for strip mall or other non-recreation developments. Section 6(f) is also flexible. It recognizes that times and demographics change and that another use for the Fund-assisted property might one day be more appropriate. In these cases, converting the property to another use is called a conversion and is allowed as long as it is replaced with other property of at least equal fair market value and usefulness.
The protective language of the law has prevented a large number of ''nuisance'' conversions. It has also worked in hundreds of successful cases where conversions have been approved. Here, the replacement lands have protected the original public investment and either maintained or enhanced the public recreation estate. The law has also withstood testing in the courts and found to be strong.
Consistent oversight over the years has ensured permanency of LWCF's contributions to the national recreation estate. The most tangible evidence of the program in future years will be the tens of thousands of recreation sites across the country that will remain available for us and our children and our grandchildren.
LWCF Program Status
The vision of the Outdoor Recreation Resources Review Commission in 1958 has been repeatedly reaffirmed. The President's Commission on Americans Outdoors concluded in 1986 that a successor to the LWCF (due at that time, to expire in 1989) should be created and dedicated from the sale of nonrenewable resources. In 1994 a committee established by the National Park System Advisory Board recognized our national failure to invest and reinvest in parks and recreation and proposed an American Network of Parks and Open Space and the revitalization of the LWCF and UPARR programs; and as recently as this year, the Americans for our Heritage and Recreation Coalition, consisting of a number of disparate groups which banded together to seek a reliable funding source for America's conservation and recreation needs, concluded that the LWCF is ''arguably the most important environmental program of this century'' and that a reliable source of funding should be restored.
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We believe that it is essential to maintain the spirit and intent of the LWCF Act as provided for under Section 6(f)(3). In keeping with this direction, late last year, NPS established a special team to develop plans to accomplish these objectives. More specifically, the team has been charged with offering recommendations to accomplish the following:
expeditiously close-out the LWCF grants project selection, approval, and reimbursement processes;
establish an effective and efficient plan of action to protect the legacy created through the 37,000+ funded projects.
The team has focused its initial energies on developing actions to close-down grant project operations as soon as possible. A draft plan of action was adopted and distributed at a special business meeting of the National Association of State Outdoor Recreation Liaison Officers (NASORLO) in St. Louis on February 8. No opposition was expressed to the proposal by NASORLO. As of February 26, the following recommendations have been implemented:
the LWCF obligation process (which now uses unobligated funds from prior years' appropriations to fund a handful of new projects), will be terminated effective August 30, 1997;
all active projects with unexpended balances will be terminated effective September 30, 2000. (Ending dates for new and amended projects are limited to that same date).
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It should be noted that the Service, under the Administration's reinvention and downsizing initiative, has significantly reduced LWCF administrative costs, e.g., a 62 percent reduction in FTE's since FY 1993. Further reductions are scheduled for FY 1998 which is in accord with the Administration's budget request. It should be noted that the lack of newly-appropriated funds for LWCF grant-in-aid assistance does not translate to a lack of need for program administrative support. In addition, the Secretary has continuing fiduciary responsibilities regarding the protection and stewardship for over 30,000 assisted sites as well as for over 600 projects which have contractual expiration dates extending into the end of year 2000.
Thank you again for this opportunity. I will be glad to answer any questions you may have.