Congress restores money for recreational real estate with Land and Water Conservation Fund allocation

Congress restores money for recreational real estate with Land and Water Conservation Fund allocation

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Congress has restored funding through which Olympic National Park and Olympic National Forest acquire recreational land.

As recently as Oct. 1, it appeared appropriations for the Land and Water Conservation Fund had expired.

On Friday, however, Congress approved a $450 million allocation, including $9.8 million for Washington state, which President Barack Obama quickly signed.

On the Olympic Peninsula, it will enable ONP to acquire land around Lake Quinault to curb sewage dumping and protect fisheries.

Other Northwest Washington appropriations include:

■   Pacific Crest Trail: Projects to protect safety and continue public access.

■   Mount St. Helens: Forest Legacy Program conservation easements to sustain working forests.

■ Ebey’s Landing: Preserving 165 acres of farmland homesteaded since the 1850s on Whidbey Island.

As for ONP’s buying land at Lake Quinault, park spokeswoman Barb Maynes said Saturday that details remained unclear.

“These thing tend to work their way down through the chain,” she said.

“It will be awhile before we get any concrete information.”

Maynes stressed there would be no federal “land grab” at the lake.

“We acquire land only from a willing seller and only when we can be a willing buyer.”

Restoring the Land and Water Conservation Fund for three years — with a one-year 47 percent boost — came as a surprise given its dismal outlook last fall, when it was allowed to lapse.

6th District Rep. Derek Kilmer, D-Gig Harbor and a Port Angeles native, lobbied hard for the fund along with U.S. Sens. Patty Murray, D-Whidbey Island, and Maria Cantwell, D-Mountlake Terrace.

The fund had been introduced by U.S. Sen. Henry “Scoop” Jackson, D-Everett, in 1964, and since then has funneled more than a half-billion dollars for recreational projects in Washington state.

Money for the program comes from revenue from offshore oil and gas leases, not from taxes.

Kilmer issued this statement after Obama signed the appropriation:

“As a dad, there is nothing better than getting my two little girls away from the screens and into the outdoors.

“That’s why when a key tool for investing in parks, recreational sites, and our valuable open spaces expired, I fought to fix it.”

Cantwell issued a statement saying, “This increase in real funding and three-year reauthorization will allow us to do important work in our state. I will continue to push for a permanent authorization.”

She added: “The LWCF supports more than $656 billion in economic activity and more than 6 million jobs nationwide.

“In the state of Washington alone, active outdoor recreation contributes more than $11.7 billion annually to the economy and it produces $8.5 billion annually in retail sales and services across the state.

“It is a successful program, good for both the environment and the economy.”

It wasn’t clear how a land purchase at Lake Quinault might affect a related issue.

The Quinault Nation continues to oppose efforts by a lakeside homeowners’ group challenging its ownership of Lake Quinault and its shores.

North Quinault Properties LLC asserts that the lake is a “public trust resource” owned by the state of Washington and that the tribe cannot control access to it.

Chief plaintiffs are Thomas and Beatrice Landreth of Hoquiam, who say they have been unable to repair their dock at their home on the lake.

In May, the suit against the state Department of Natural Resources and Peter Goldmark, commissioner of public lands, was dismissed by U.S. District Court Judge Ronald Leighton in Tacoma.

The homeowners, however, refiled the suit in September, dropping the tribe as a defendant but retaining Goldmark and the DNR.

_______

Reporter James Casey can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 5074, or at jcasey@peninsuladailynews.com.

More in News

Health warning lifted at East Beach on Marrowstone Island

Jefferson County Public Health has lifted the health warning from… Continue reading

Abby Counts, 8, with assistance from her father, Taylor Counts, an EMT with Clallam 2 Fire-Rescue, gives a newly acquired tender truck a ceremonial wash down during a push-in ceremony on Saturday at the district’s Station 22. The truck, tender 22, cost $459,439 and was paid for by the fire district’s 2020 levy lid lift. Saturday’s ceremony also included a blessing by the Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe and a “push-in” of the truck into its berth. The tender replaces a 31-year-old truck that had reached the end of its useful life. (Keith Thorpe/Peninsula Daily News)
New tender

Abby Counts, 8, with assistance from her father, Taylor Counts, an EMT… Continue reading

The 95 Port Townsend High School seniors walk through the rhody garden at Fort Worden State Park on their way to the graduation ceremony on Friday. (Steve Mullensky/for Peninsula Daily News)
Graduation walk

Port Townsend, Chimacum ceremonies

Lands commissioner wary of federal plan to kill thousands of owls

Washington’s public lands commissioner, Hilary Franz, is voicing skepticism about a federal… Continue reading

Operations scheduled at Bentinck range this week

The land-based demolition range at Bentinck Island will be… Continue reading

Weekly flight operations scheduled

There will be field carrier landing practice operations for aircraft… Continue reading

Matt Larson of Sequim, who uses the radio call sign KC7EQO, tunes into a ham radio satellite during Saturday’s Radio Field Day at the Clallam County Fairgrounds in Port Angeles. The annual event, hosted by the Clallam County Amateur Radio Club, brought together amateur radio operators from around the world in a contest to make as many radio contacts as possible in a 24-hour period as a test of emergency preparedness from remote locations. (Keith Thorpe/Peninsula Daily News)
Testing the system

Matt Larson of Sequim, who uses the radio call sign KC7EQO, tunes… Continue reading

Best of the Peninsula.
Voting round open for Best of Peninsula contest

It’s time again to vote for the Best of the Peninsula. Now… Continue reading

Port of Port Townsend focusing on five capital improvement projects

Stormwater improvement in permitting phase; construction may begin this year

Clallam County Sheriff Brian King, right, carries a ceremonial torch with Special Olympian William Sirguy, center, accompanied by his mother, Katie Sirguy, during Friday’s Special Olympics Law Enforcement Torch Run along the Waterfront Trail in Port Angeles. The event, designed to raise awareness and funds for the Special Olympics movement, brought together law enforcement officers from Clallam, Jefferson and Kitsap counties for a march across the North Olympic Peninsula. (Keith Thorpe/Peninsula Daily News)
Torch run

Clallam County Sheriff Brian King, right, carries a ceremonial torch with Special… Continue reading

Groups back natural gas initiative

Signature-gathering efforts end July 5

Pictured left to right, Ginny Wagner, Xxzavyon (XJ) Square, Ewan Mordecai-Smith, Elise Sirguy, Mahayla Amendolare and Mallory Hartman cut the ribbon of the little free library at Jefferson Elementary School on Friday. (Darlene Cook)
Students come together to promote reading literacy

Free library constructed near Jefferson Elementary