CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Supporters of West Virginia’s trails and wildlife refuges are hoping Congress approves full funding to the Land and Water Conservation Fund permanently in spending bills this month.
Lawmakers will have to pass spending bills before the end of the month to prevent a government shutdown from happening, including money for the Department of the Interior which manages the fund.
Over the past 54 years, West Virginia has received around $243 million for multiple places including the Canaan Valley National Wildlife Refuge, Monongahela National Forest and New River Gorge National Park. Such facilities bring billions of dollars to the state as well as thousands of jobs.
“In terms of appropriating the funds, what we’re hoping to see leadership from our congressional delegation is to make sure that full funding is permanently instituted,” said Angie Rosser, the executive director of West Virginia Rivers Coalition.
“What we’ve seen over the years is even though $900 million has been authorized, only about half of that gets appropriated. We’re missing opportunities. That money is not flowing like it should.”
Funding also goes toward improvements to local parks and public spaces across the state.
Earlier this month, U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., announced $1.8 million in funding for the state.
“I’m pleased to see this investment in West Virginia’s public lands. In the Mountain State, we have a rich history and at the center of it is our love and appreciation for the outdoor playground we have been blessed with,” he said. “Over the years, LWCF funding has expanded access to some of West Virginias’ most treasured areas and this additional funding will do the same.”
The deadline for Congress to pass a budget deal is Sept. 30.