Advocates urge Congress to provide full funding for Nevada public lands

Las Vegas Review-Journal
Shea Johnson

Environmental advocates in Nevada want U.S. lawmakers to fully fund a decades-old revenue stream that has contributed more than $100 million to outdoor preservation projects in the state since its inception.

By authorizing only a partial appropriation each year of the Land and Water Conservation Fund, an act established by Congress in 1964, the federal government is preventing more robust protection of public lands and missing an opportunity to enhance outdoor recreation, which has proved to be a major economic driver in Nevada, advocates say.

“Without the funding of the (Land and Water Conservation Fund), countless jobs and millions in revenue from the outdoor recreation industry could be at risk,” said David Quinlan, market coordinator for REI, an outdoor sports and recreation retail chain.

The fund is bankrolled by fees from offshore oil and gas industry leases and authorized to deliver $900 million annually to states, but it has only been fully funded twice in its history, according to a report released Wednesday.

Instead lawmakers have often diverted funding to non-conservation projects, leaving more than half of the roughly $41 billion in revenue accrued over the fund’s lifetime to be spent elsewhere, according to the report. The fund received $495 million during the most recent federal budget cycle, a modest increase over the previous year.