As Congress passed a budget that could include severe cuts to vital conservation programs, The Nature Conservancy has announced its “Top Ten California Treasures.” These treasures are California’s most iconic parks and recreation areas that were funded by a federal program called the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF), which is currently proposed to be cut by 90 percent in the House of Representatives’ budget.
“Californians have really benefited from the Land and Water Conservation Fund,” said Mike Sweeney, Executive Director of the Nature Conservancy’s California Chapter. “Many of our prized natural areas around the state, the places we think of as quintessentially Californian, exist because of this program. Although we are all facing tough budget decisions, this program is funded by oil and gas revenue and costs the taxpayers nothing.”
California’s Mohave Desert. Source: The Nature Conservancy
The Land and Water Conservation uses money from federal oil and gas leases to create parks, protect wildlife habitat and provide recreational opportunities for all Americans. In its nearly 50-year history, the program has protected almost seven million acres of parkland and natural areas across the country and more than 37,000 parks and recreation projects in America—including some of California’s most iconic and recognizable places—that are crucial for attracting tourists, funding jobs and generating tax revenue for the state. The LWCF has been particularly important for California, which has received approximately $1.2 billion over the past four decades—double the amount received by any other state.
“We have so many amazing places all around that state, we had a hard time narrowing this list to just ten. It was a matter of some debate in the Conservancy,” added Sweeney.
“We hope this list inspires Californians to go out and visit these places, create their own top ten lists and to urge Congress to continue funding California’s natural legacy.”