Bordallo Introduces LWCF Bill to Fully Fund Public Parks and Outdoor Recreation Facilities in Territories, D.C.
Washington, D.C. – Congresswoman Madeleine Z. Bordallo today introduced bipartisan legislation to provide full federal funding for public parks, playgrounds, outdoor sports fields, and other community spaces in Guam, the other U.S. territories, and the District of Columbia. This bipartisan bill is supported by all six members of Congress representing the U.S. territories and the federal District of Columbia.
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Original cosponsors: Congresswoman Aumua Amata Coleman Radewagen (R-AS), Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC), Congressman Gregorio Kilili Camacho Sablan (D-NMI), Resident Commissioner Jenniffer González-Colón (R-PR) and Congresswoman Stacey E. Plaskett (D-USVI).
The LWCF Parity for Territories and DC Act would provide a full, state-equivalent share in yearly grant funding from the federal Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) for Guam, the other U.S. territories, and the District of Columbia. A 1965 federal law currently requires the five territories and D.C. to split six ways the LWCF grant funding that a single state receives annually.
According to the U.S. Department of the Interior, $94,309,439 was awarded nationally through the LWCF program in fiscal year 2017. Of this, the two least-populous mainland states each received more than $823,000 in federal LWCF grants for their public parkland and outdoor recreation projects, while Guam received just $75,130. Congresswoman Bordallo’s bill would fix this disparity by guaranteeing a full state-equivalent share for each of the territories and D.C., every year.
“This is about fairness for Guam and the other territories,” said Congresswoman Bordallo. “My bill guarantees that Guam, D.C., and the other territories receive a full share of federal LWCF grant funding to improve our public parks, sports fields, and community open spaces. The federal government should treat us equitably with the states, and that is exactly what this bill does. I am proud to have the support of my colleagues representing the other four territories and D.C on this bipartisan bill.”
Said Congresswoman Aumua Amata, (R-AS), “Parks and recreational areas help build better neighborhoods, and are essential to the healthy, happy lives we want for our children. Territories should absolutely be on an equal footing with the states in support for these community projects. Thank you to Congresswoman Bordallo, and all of the cosponsors, for this opportunity to work together to update an outdated funding practice, and continue establishing parity for the territories.”
Said Congressman Gregorio Kilili Camacho Sablan (D-NMI), “Securing our fair share of the Land and Water Conservation Fund will allow the Commonwealth to make investments in outdoor recreation that benefit everyone in our community and make the Marianas even more attractive to tourists,” stated Congressman Sablan. “Analysis of the Fund has shown that every $1 that goes into athletic fields, parks, and improvements to beach areas can generate a $4 economic return.”
Said Resident Commissioner Jenniffer González-Colón (R-PR), “The Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) is a vital Federal program that supports outside recreation and the protection of natural resources such as parks, forests and wildlife areas. The LWCF has facilitated many important projects across Puerto Rico to the benefit of the 3.4 million U.S. citizens who live on the island as well as the millions of tourists who visit the territory each year. Regrettably, in its current form, the program is deficient at the expense of the five U.S. territories and the District of Columbia who must share a single state allocation. I thank Congresswoman Bordallo in her leadership in introducing The LWCF Parity for Territories and DC Act, which will provide a full, state-equivalent share in yearly grant funding for each territory and the District of Columbia under the Land and Water Conservation Fund.”
Said Congresswoman Stacey Plaskett (D-USVI), “The Land and Water Conservation Fund has proven to be a spectacular investment for the places that make this country special, like the US Virgin Islands, for the people who benefit from access to those places for fishing and camping, and for the local communities that host these truly remarkable resources. Fully funding this program will allow communities across the country to continue protecting our nation’s public lands and providing access for the outdoor activities Americans enjoy. For over 50 years, the Land and Water Conservation Fund has helped states and territories be stewards for millions of acres of land. It has helped protect parks like the Virgin Islands National Park, which occupies the majority of St. John, and areas that provide clean drinking water for Americans, valuable habitat for fish and wildlife, and outdoor activities for families. I look forward to working with my colleagues to get this legislation passed.”
Congresswoman Bordallo’s bill would guarantee much more federal funding for outdoor recreation projects on Guam and the other territories, including funding available to address maintenance concerns at the Guam Sports Complex in Dededo. In years past, the Dededo Sports Complex has received federal LWCF grant funding for various site improvements.
The LWCF Parity for Territories and DC Act will be referred to the House Committee on Natural Resources, of which Congresswoman Bordallo is a senior Democratic member. She will make this bill a priority as Congress is likely to reauthorize the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) before the end of fiscal year 2018.