Permanent reauthorization of a federal fund that helps pay for parks and pools in the Tri-City area is included in the Senate bipartisan energy bill released Wednesday by Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., and Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska.
The Land and Water Conservation Fund, or LWCF, will expire after 50 years if not reauthorized by the end of September.
“In Washington state, the LWCF has helped preserve places like the Columbia River Gorge, Lake Chelan and Olympic National Park, and it has improved management of our public lands,” Cantwell said in a statement.
In the Tri-City area, money from the fund has been used at Sacajawea State Park, Columbia Park, the Kennewick city pool, George Prout Pool in Richland, the Badger Mountain Spray Park and Highland Park in Pasco and for Yakima River access.
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Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee staff said the reauthorization proposal balances land acquisition with other conservation programs.
Money for the fund comes form a small portion of payments for offshore oil and gas drilling leases. The program is based on the principle that as publicly owned natural resources are depleted, investments should be made in conserving natural treasures for future generations, according to the Washington Wildlife and Recreation Coalition.