This morning, Rep. Rob Bishop (R-Utah) unveiled his proposal to overhaul the Land and Water Conservation Fund, America’s most successful and beloved parks program.
Bishop’s rollout was, to put it bluntly, a disaster.
Conservation, sportsmen’s, and even veterans’ groups quickly condemned Bishop’s proposal using unusually blunt language. Here’s a sampling of the reaction.
From the Montana Wildlife Federation, which notes that Bishop’s plan would “gut” LWCF while being a “disaster” for hunting and fishing:
“Reform is just a diversion to run the clock down on the program. At best, it means taking funding away from America’s outdoor families. At worst, it means killing LWCF completely.”
—Kathy Hadley, Montana Wildlife Federation
The League of Conservation Voters noted how little Bishop’s bill has to do with the entire purpose of LWCF:
“His radical new bill is miles apart from the original intent of the program, which is to conserve places for future generations and increase outdoor recreation opportunities across the country.”
—Andy French, League of Conservation Voters
LWCF is not a controversial or partisan issue. Its 50-year track record has garnered broad support from both sides of the aisle. Conservatives for Responsible Stewardship reminded us of that today:
“Congressman Bishop seeks to replace LWCF with a scheme that completely betrays the program’s land conservation purposes. His rewrite represents a radical departure from the fundamental values and stewardship ethic on which LWCF is based, and his attempt to pawn this off as some sort of revision must be rejected.”
—David Jenkins, Conservatives for Responsible Stewardship
The Vet Voice Foundation chimed in with the reality of Bishop’s bill to America’s veterans:
“When Rob Bishop proposes gutting LWCF, he’s really talking about prioritizing Big Oil over our veterans. This plan is hostile to those who served. This is our American heritage, our history that Rep. Bishop is giving away. The Congressman single-handedly ensured the expiration of America’s parks program, and now threatens to dismember it entirely.”
—Garett Reppenhagen, Vet Voice Foundation
Backcountry Hunters and Anglers, one of the nation’s leading groups representing sportsmen, called Bishop’s bill the ‘dismantling’ of LWCF:
“A slap in the face to American sportsmen. … Congressman Bishop’s proposed legislation not only fundamentally changes LWCF; it also flies in the face of the values of anyone who hunts and fishes.”
—Land Taney, Backcountry Hunters and Anglers
Evangelical groups weighed in when they saw how damaging Bishop’s bill is to our lands:
“Our national parks and public lands — from Yellowstone and the Grand Canyon to public baseball fields and playgrounds — are a gift from God that must be cherished and preserved. … Unfortunately, Congressman Rob Bishop (R-UT, 1st), Chair of the House Natural Resources Committee, introduced a bill today that would effectively end America’s best parks program…. [H]is bill would put 172 national parks at risk of development, limits funds for public access, and puts outdoor recreation jobs at risk. This is the opposite of good stewardship.”
—Rev. Mitch Hescox, Evangelical Environmental Network
Yes, this one is ours. CWP’s Policy Director Greg Zimmerman notes the insidious nature of Bishop’s arbitrary and capricious dividing line that’s a giveaway to developers who want to build inside our national parks:
“By severely limiting land protections west of the 100th meridian, Congressman Bishop just wrote a gift to developers who want to build trophy homes inside our national treasures. 93 percent of the National Park Service acres eligible for protection using LWCF funds are west of the 100th meridian. That includes thousands of acres in Rob Bishop’s own backyard—private land inside Zion and Bryce Canyon National Parks—in addition to lands within some of America’s most iconic parks like Grand Teton and Yosemite. This bill would ensure the Park Service never has enough money to protect those lands for future generations.”
—Greg Zimmerman, Center for Western Priorities
Congressman Bishop even took time while plugging his bill to complain that he still doesn’t have enough data about whether LWCF has been a success. At one point during today’s press call, he claimed the National Park Service didn’t know how many acres it had purchased using LWCF funds over the last 50 years. That’s completely false. NPS has the exact number, down to the hundreth of an acre, and happily provides it to anyone who asks. (We even mapped it for him back in August.)
So, Congressman Bishop: The answer to your question is 2,225,048.91 acres.