An environmental group announced it will air a pair of TV commercials calling on Florida Republican congressmen John Mica and Carlos Curbelo to help restore the federal Land and Water Conservation Program.
The Western Value Project said the ads are part of a six-figure ad buy and will air in Curbelo’s and Mica’s districts – South Florida’s CD26 and Central Florida’s CD7, respectively – for one week. The group said it will also air commercials in the districts of Pennsylvania Republican Reps. Ryan Costello and Michael Fitzpatrick.
“For 50 years, the gridlock of Washington hasn’t been seen here,” the ad’s narrator states over images of the Everglades. “Now, one Utah congressman, backed by big oil, is putting up road blocks to end funding for thousands of parks, playgrounds and trails in every state by blocking renewal of the bipartisan land and water fund, which uses no taxpayer money and helped protect the Everglades.”
The advertisements close out by listing the district phone numbers of the congressmen and urging viewers to call and tell them to “get Washington politicians out of our way and restore the Land and Water Fund.”
The Land and Water Conservation Fund was created by Congress in 1965 to preserve natural areas and water resources in all states. National parks, wildlife refuges and national forests all fall under the program, which is funded through royalties paid by energy companies. Since inception the program has spent about $17 billion on conservation projects, including about $997 million in Florida. LWCF was slated to purchase more Everglades acreage in 2016.
“The Land and Water Conservation Fund deserves full funding and permanent reauthorization now,” WVP Director Chris Saeger said in a press release. “Representative Rob Bishop’s political gamesmanship threatens our most successful, widespread and beloved parks program. Representatives Curbelo and Mica need to do the right thing and stand up for LWCF – not let Bishop bully them around.”
Bishop, a Utah Republican who chairs the House Natural Resources Committee, blocked reauthorization for the fund earlier this year and has proposed legislation the Western Values Project said will “gut” the fund. Neither Curbelo nor Mica are members of the committee, though Curbelo — whose district includes the Everglades — is a co-sponsor of HR 1814, a House bill to permanently reauthorize the Land and Water Conservation Fund.
In both 1999 and 2011, Mica also co-sponsored bills to fully fund and permanently reauthorize the program.