The Northwest Marine Trade Association is applauding U.S. Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., for championing the reauthorization of the Land and Water Conservation Fund, which the trade group said has been improving boating and access for boaters for 50 years.
The NMTA sent a thank-you letter to Cantwell signed by 23 marine businesses that belong to the group.
“Unless Congress acts, and acts fast, the future of this fund is in jeopardy,” NMTA vice president and government affairs director Peter Schrappen said in a statement.
“Fortunately a recreational boating advocate like Sen. Cantwell appreciates the overall economic impact of boating — both the $4 billion spent annually in Washington state alone and the $121 billion national total. Even better, she is coordinating her efforts across the aisle with fellow boating champion Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, to ensure that this program remains whole for future generations.”
“Sen. Cantwell has a long history standing up for recreational boating. Her leadership on LWCF reauthorization is the latest example in a long string of support she has shown us,” said Rick Gladych, co-owner of Raven Offshore Yacht Shipping.
Unlike traditional appropriations, Congress collects money for the fund from offshore oil leases, not taxpayer dollars. It has the authority to collect as much as $900 million, which is a fraction of the entire lease money Congress collects from this activity.
The fund has conserved places in Washington that include Howard Miller Steelhead County Park along the Skagit River; Eddon Boat Park in Gig Harbor; and Mount Baker’s Rowing and Sailing Center in Seattle.
Nationally, the fund has enabled more than 41,000 state and local conservation projects. However, there are unmet needs because the government has diverted $18 billion from the fund to unrelated purposes during its lifetime. For fiscal 2015, Congress left $10.2 million in projects unfunded in Washington alone.
“LWCF is the best kept secret around. If you love love boating, then you should love LWCF. At no expense to boaters we have improved boating infrastructure around Washington state, to name just a few projects,” Schrappen said.