Federal Fund That Benefits Idaho In Jeopardy

Sep 5, 2018

A federal fund that helps protect public recreation spaces in Idaho may not get renewed by Congress.

Since the Land and Water Conservation Fund was created in 1964, millions of dollars have gone to states to build everything from swimming pools to parks. The fund has given Idaho $279 million dollars for hundreds of projects, including parts of the Greenbelt in Boise, Pioneer Park in Stanley and a splash pad at Piccadilly Park in Middleton.

Tim Murphy is the retired state director of the Bureau of Land Management.

“It helps Idaho remain that great state. The open space, the value that keeps Idahoans here and draws Idahoans here to this beautiful state each and every year,” says Murphy.

The program began as a bi-partisan commitment to safeguard natural areas, water resources and cultural heritage. It’s funded with royalties from off shore oil and gas leases.

Speaking on Idaho Matters, Merrill Beyeler, a rancher and former state legislator, said the fund will help people give back to the state.

“Idaho lands have worked for Idahoans really well for a really long period of time and it’s now our turn as Idahoans to begin to work for our lands and to make sure that those that follow us have the same opportunities and experiences that we’ve enjoyed,” says Beyeler.

Opponents of the fund say the LWCF is mismanaged and misused, has no accountability and favors special interest groups. Supporters argue the government agencies like the Bureau of Land Management go through a thorough, step-by-step process to request and administer project funds. 

The fund is set to expire on September 30.

Find Samantha Wright on Twitter @samwrightradio

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