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Johanna Neumann: Land and Water Conservation Fund at risk in Congress

To the editor:

Thank you to the Gazette for helping to raise the profile of the Conte Wildlife Refuge’s critical ecological value. (“Unique among others,” Aug. 7). The diverse ecosystems that make up the 36,000 acres of the refuge are home to thousands of species, including bald eagles, and increasingly projects like the raised trail under construction in Hadley are increasing access to help people explore this natural gem in our backyard.

Nearly 50 years ago Congress created the Land and Water Conservation Fund, which should receive $900 million each year in royalties from offshore oil and gas development, explicitly to help expand and improve places like the Conte Refuge.

Unfortunately, now this funding source is at risk. Last month, a House Appropriations subcommittee voted to zero out funding for the Land and Water Conservation Fund completely. We urge the Massachusetts congressional delegation to push back against this attack on our environment. Particularly, we call on U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren to help hold the line to make sure our parks and special places like the Conte Refuge get the resources they deserve.

Johanna Neumann

Amherst

The author is the regional director for the New England branch of Environment America.

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