CONCORD — Gov. Chris Sununu joined the bipartisan call to pass a federal bill that permanently earmarks money for the federal Land and Water Conservation Fund.
In a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy, Sununu said the popular state-by-state matching grant program has protected many treasured spots in communities across the state and ensured access to the Mount Washington summit.
“Congress has a mixed bag when it comes to funding the LWCF,” Sununu wrote in his letter.
“While permanent authorization was a monumental step in the right direction, it is time for the conservation of our lands, preservation of outdoor recreation areas and heritage to be fully removed from the political theatrics of the continuous Washington appropriation fight.”
Jim O’Brien, director of external affairs of the Nature Conservancy in New Hampshire, applauded the statement.
“Thank you @GovChrisSununu for your support of dedicated and permanent funding for #LWCF. Protecting nature and ensuring access to the outdoors are core values. It is time to get this done,” O’Brien said in a statement.
The Trump administration in its Department of the Interior budget in 2019 zeroed out spending for the LWCF.
In 2019, the Congress blocked that move and gave the program $495 million for the current year.
But supporters note Congress originally intended the program to have $900 million a year.
The House resolution has 232 co-sponsors meaning it has the votes to pass whenever Pelosi would agree to bring it to the floor.
Those supporters include both U.S. Reps. Annie Kuster and Chris Pappas, D-NH.
A bipartisan group of U.S. senators have also gotten on board with this campaign including several who are up for reelection in 2020.
There are 50 Senate co-sponsors including Sens. Jeanne Shaheen and Maggie Hassan, D-NH, as well as 2020 Democratic candidates Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders and Amy Klobuchar.