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House Committee Dedicates LWCF, Senate Cuts Ag Conservation, Use twitter

Advocates Alert: July 16, 2010

On Thursday, the House took a big step towards freeing the Land and Water Conservation Fund from the limitations of the annual appropriations process.  Meanwhile, cuts to Farm Bill conservation programs in the Senate provide a potent reminder of just how challenging the appropriations process will be in the years ahead.

House Committee Approves Dedicated Land and Water Conservation Fund

On Thursday, the House Natural Resources Committee approved an energy bill (the CLEAR Act, H.R. 3534) that would annually fund the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) at its full authorized level of $900 million.  At that level, the program would be able to proactively address backlogged conservation and recreation needs at the local, state and federal levels. Click here to learn more about LWCF.

While the overall bill passed more narrowly, the committee voted16 to 25 to reject an amendment that would have stripped LWCF funding from the bill.  We’d like to thank Chairman Nick Rahall (D-WV) for his leadership and Rep. Rob Wittman (R-VA) for joining with Democrats on the committee to oppose the anti-LWCF amendment.

We will let you know when and if this bill is considered on the House floor, where broader political considerations may force significant changes.

The Alliance supports full funding for LWCF, but also supports changes that would allow the fund to more directly support conservation by land trusts. Our July 2nd alert discusses these ideas in greater detail and suggests ways you can support these changes through the America’s Great Outdoors Initiative.

Tweet Your Ideas to the White House and Congress

While often trivialized, Twitter can be a serious advocacy tool!  Early studies suggest that elected officials pay a lot of attention to tweets that mention them because 140 character messages can be digested quickly and are seen as more genuine and spontaneous than emails (which are often part of orchestrated advocacy campaigns).

You can ensure your tweets are noticed as part of a conversation by including "hashtags" (i.e. #lwcf, #rally2010) and "mentions" (i.e. @lisapjackson, @ltalliance).

One way the Obama Administration recommends you provide feedback for the America's Great Outdoors Initiative is by including #usago in a tweet. For example: Smalltown Land Trust hopes the #usago Initiative will improve #lwcf by directly funding easement purchases by local land trusts.

A growing number of Senators and Representatives have twitter accounts.  You can usually find their feed or a twitter logo on their pages at www.house.gov or www.senate.gov.  "Following" them is a good way to find out about events where you can meet them and you can send feedback with a direct message or mention like this: @robwittman thank you for opposing the amendment to strip dedicated #lwcf funding from the CLEAR Act.

Click here for more tips on using twitter to reach elected officials. You can also follow @ltalliance for updates on land trust issues.

Senate Appropriators Cut Farm Bill Conservation Programs

Two weeks ago, we celebrated a House subcommittee's rejection of caps on Farm Bill conservation easement programs that were included in President Obama's Fiscal Year 2011 Budget Request.  Unfortunately, the news from Thursday's Senate Appropriations Committee meeting is not as promising.

The overall Senate cut of $500 million is only half as bad as the $1 billion cutback in the President's Budget, but the additional cuts fall disproportionately on the easement programs we care about most:

  • The Farm and Ranchland Protection Program would be capped at $160 m. That's the same $15 m cut in the President's Budget -- funding would rise $10 m from last year, but it's less than the $175 m Farm Bill level allowed by the House.
  • The acreage cap for the Grasslands Reserve Program would be reduced for a cut of about $14 m -- better than the $22 m cut in the President's Budget, but there was no cut in the House.
  • The acreage cap for the Wetlands Reserve Program would be reduced for a cut of about $75 m -- again that's better than the President's cut of $111 m, but the House allowed full funding.

These Senate cuts show how tough funding will be this year and next.  Keeping funding for conservation programs will require all of us to reach out to our Senators and Representatives as appropriators seek a compromise on FY 2011 and work begins on the 2012 Farm Bill.

Thanks for helping!


H.R. 1831 Co-sponsor Added Since Last Update

  • Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX/18th)

Click here for the full list.


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Advocates Alerts

July 17: The House just voted 277-130 to pass the charities package! 56 Democrats joined their Republican colleagues to support charitable giving incentives, including the enhanced easement incentive - the second-highest number of defections after the research and development tax credit. Several others spoke on the floor in support of the conservation easement incentive, and other favorable charitable incentives. Thank you to organizations like Ducks Unlimited, CSF and others that reached out to Congressional offices over the last few days or alerted their membership of this important vote. Now, we pivot to the Senate.
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