MANCHIN: LWCF CAN EXPAND HUNTING ACCESS IN WEST VIRGINIA
To watch a video of Senator Manchin’s opening remarks click here.
To watch a video of Senator Manchin’s questioning click here.
Washington, DC – Today, the U.S. Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources held a hearing to review the implementation of the Land and Water Conservation Fund. U.S. Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV), ranking member of the Committee, stressed the need for permanent LWCF program funding now that Congress permanently reauthorized this program earlier this year.
“I have long supported LWCF, which has played a crucial role in making my state of West Virginia all the more ‘wild and wonderful.’ In fact, since 1965, $243 million of LWCF funds have been spent to enhance recreation and conservation in West Virginia alone,” Senator Manchin said. “LWCF funds have been used to provide public access and protect many of West Virginia’s most popular recreation sites, including the Dolly Sods Wilderness in the Monongahela National Forest, as well as every access point on the Lower Gauley River in the Gauley River National Recreation area.”
Senator Manchin also questioned National Wildlife Federation President and CEO, Mr. Collin O’Mara, about the importance of permanent funding as it pertains to expanding hunting opportunities within West Virginia.
“One of the most common reasons cited for giving up hunting is the inability to access public lands. As you know, hunting opportunities and the connection we have are part of our culture. It’s an important issue for the states out west with ‘checkerboard’ land ownership patterns,” Senator Manchin said.“States like West Virginia and other eastern states have very limited public land on which to hunt, with most land in private ownership. Can you help us understand some of LWCF’s successes in expanding wildlife habitat in rural states, eastern states and western states, too?”
“There’s been studies done by TRCP (Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership) and others that show lands that are just inaccessible. A lot of them tend to be BLM [Bureau of Land Management] and others. Looking at the number of public lands in particular, the Gauley River is a perfect example in West Virginia. A lot of times it’s that surgical, strategic investment where it might only be a handful of acres. You don’t need to have everything you just need that specific piece to allow access because between roads and other private land owners shutting off access, you don’t have it unless you have that single parcel,”said Mr. O’Mara.
Senator Manchin also questioned the Honorable Susan Combs, Assistant Secretary for Policy, Management and Budget, U.S. Department of the Interior, about the Administration’s budget proposal failing to request any funding for the LWCF.
“Ms. Combs, there’s a process of putting budgets together. When I was governor, I had every agency give me their requests and we would look at it strategically to see what we could do, what we couldn’t do and how much of whatever needed eliminating. Can you tell me what your request was for LWCF?” Senator Manchin asked.
“The budget that was put in does not have any funding for LWCF,” Hon. Combs said.
“So you didn’t request anything?” Senator Manchin asked.
“No, sir,” Hon. Combs said.
“You left it zero?” Senator Manchin asked.
“Yes, sir,” Hon. Combs said.
“That’s not good,” Senator Manchin said.
The hearing featured testimony from representatives of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the National Association of State Outdoor Recreation Liaison Officers, the National Wildlife Federation, and the Property and Environment Research Center. To read their testimonies click here.
To watch the hearing in full click here.
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