Cantwell, Reichert lead bipartisan effort on LWCF, critical federal funding for parks

SEATTLE — You may have never heard of the Land Water Conservation Fund (LWCF), but you've most likely benefited from it.

Odds are some of your favorite parks are a result. Since Congress started the fund in 1964, Washington has received a total of $660 million, which has gone to projects like turning an old Naval air station into Magnuson Park.

On Monday Democratic Senator Maria Cantwell and Republican Representative Dave Reichert gathered at Gasworks Park in Seattle to call for permanent full funding of LWCF.

Secretary of the Interior and former REI CEO Sally Jewell joined them at Gasworks Park, which was renovated from an old abandoned industrial site 40 years ago with money from LWCF.

"New improvements to the downtown park in Bellevue," she said. "Improved access for kids to enjoy outdoor recreation right there. These are very local."

When it expired last year, Senator Cantwell was able to push an extension through Congress; A bipartisan conference put together the plan to fully fund LWCF at $900 million per year nationwide.

“A big economy has grown up around the use of the outdoors,” Cantwell told KIRO 7. “And so hopefully our colleagues will see that and say this is an important time to get it done.”

KIRO 7 anchor John Knicely asked Cantwell about some opposition that wants more money to the states, saying states can do a better job of getting the money out more quickly.

“This is a process where the states weigh in on these programs,” she said. “And in the Senate we made about half a dozen changes to improve efficiency so there was more input into the program.”

Congressman Reichert called the LWCF a common sense project and is confident it will pass by the end of the year.

"There's always people that think they have a better idea," Reichert told KIRO 7. "And it always comes at the last minute."