National Hiking Day 2014 - Press Release

June 3, 2014

National Hiking Day 2014: A Time to Celebrate the Outdoors – And the Need for Conservation Funding

Lafayette – The Delta Chapter of the Sierra Club marked the occasion of National Hiking Day – June 7, 2014 – with a reminder of the importance of Louisiana’s great outdoors and the critical need to maintain public funding for conservation.

“Louisiana’s network of hiking trails, as well as the state’s unique paddling trails, did not happen by themselves,” said Haywood Martin, Chair of the Delta Chapter. “They were developed and have been maintained by active citizens and groups working with government agencies, and reflect public support for the welfare of our air, land, and water.”

The Chapter cited in particular the need for Congress to fully support the Land and Water Conservation Fund. Initially passed in 1964, the Land and Water Conservation Fund has enabled America to build its rich network of parks, natural areas, and recreational sites, including over 700 projects funded in Louisiana through the Fund’s State Assistance Grants.

“In addition to many of Louisiana’s local and state parks, the Land and Water Conservation Fund has helped to create or expand the state’s outstanding National Wildlife Refuges,” said Martin, “which provide vital areas for bird-watching, fishing, hunting, and hiking. Louisiana would be a far poorer state without them.” The federal component of the LWCF has also help fund Louisiana’s two national historical parks, Cane River Creole and Jean Lafitte.

However, while America’s conservation needs continue to grow, support in Congress is not guaranteed, and the Fund’s status is in doubt. Despite the fact that the Land and Water Conservation Fund is designed to receive a portion of royalties from offshore oil and gas production, Congress routinely diverts the funds to other purposes. Last year, the House Interior appropriations Subcommittee voted to zero out funding for the LWCF for the first time in the law’s history. President Obama’s budget calls for the LWCF to be fully funded, but is not expected to be approved by the House. The role of the U.S. Senate will be critical in this situation, said Martin.

“Given the vulnerability of our state’s environment, and the hostility of many members of our Congressional delegation to conservation and protection of the environment, we have a special responsibility in Louisiana to stand up for funding our parks, refuges, and natural areas,” said Martin.

Hiking and outdoor recreation are key components of the Sierra Club’s mission – for more information on the activities of the Delta Chapter of the Sierra Club, go to www.lasierraclub.org.

Background:

Land & Water Conservation Fund in Louisiana, http://www.lwcfcoalition.org/louisiana.html

“U.S. Congress Eliminates Land and Water Conservation” http://www.fltws.org/news/2014/1/7/us-congress-eliminates-land-and-water-conservation-act-now

“President’s Budget Makes Historic Investment in Land and Water Conservation”, https://www.americanforests.org/newsroom/presidents-budget-makes-historic-investment-in-land-and-water-conservation/

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