Our nation’s premier conservation funding program expires on September 30
In Pennsylvania, the Appalachian National Scenic Trail crosses the Lehigh River, then traverses 15 miles maintained by AMC’s Delaware Valley Chapter. As the Appalachian Trail continues north, it passes through 3,000 acres of specular, privately-owned forested lands before reaching the Delaware Water Gap National Recreational Area.
These private lands are waiting on federal funding from the Land and Water Conservation Fund to be protected permanently as open space. This incredible property abuts the Appalachian Trail and would expand the Cherry Valley National Wildlife Refuge once protected.
If the Land and Water Conservation Fund expires, landscape-scale open space projects like this, as well as much smaller parks serving neighborhoods, may be lost forever.
AMC and the Appalachian Trail Conservancy recently took a flight over this landscape with Lighthawk, a non-profit that helps to advance conservation causes by offering aerial flights over project areas. Our pilot, Mike, took us up to 2,500 feet to see the landscape and conservation opportunities along the Appalachian Trail, Cherry Valley National Wildlife Refuge, Delaware Water Gap, and the Wild & Scenic Delaware River, as well as the New Jersey Highlands and the Wallkill River National Wildlife Refuge.
From above, the value of landscape-scale conservation efforts that depend on funding from the Land and Water Conservation Fund become crystal clear. How inspiring to see so much of the Appalachian Trail and its viewshed all at once, a critical corridor for people and nature and a genuine, close-to-home natural wonder. Key connections and private land in-holdings are obvious from this height. On-going efforts must continue to close these gaps and fully connect the Appalachian Trail corridor.
The Land and Water Conservation Fund has been instrumental in protecting special places like these across the country since 1964.
But the Land and Water Conservation Fund is at risk. June 20, 2018, marks the 100-day countdown until the Land and Water Conservation Fund expires after more than 53 years of successful conservation. Without it, important conservation projects in the Mid-Atlantic, in New England, and across the country will be put on hold and may be lost forever.
You can help today. Call your U.S. Senators and ask that they demand a vote on legislation to reauthorize and fully fund the Land and Water Conservation Fund. Even supportive Senators need to speak to leadership today and insist on a vote.
AMC is working in partnership with other conservation organizations right now to protect 2 million acres of additional open space in the Northeast. To advance this goal, we have taken on a leadership role in the national Land and Water Conservation Fund Coalition. Across the Maine Woods and the White Mountain National Forest, along the Appalachian National Scenic Trail and throughout the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area, in local parks, trails, playgrounds and ballfields from coast to coast, the Land and Water Conservation Fund has been instrumental in ensuring the protection of the places we love. We cannot let it all go to waste.