Seek Answers from Presidential Candidates About Land Protection

They'll be back; let's be ready

Matt Leahy | March 3, 2016

The 2016 presidential campaign has been dominated by immigration, terrorism, tax policy and the economy.  All are unquestionably important issues, and the candidates should tell us how they would address them.  What has been lacking so far is any discussion of the proper federal role in the protection of our country’s natural resources.  It's time to make this issue a part of the campaign dialogue.

For those who would argue that land conservation is simply a lesser priority than those other issues, let’s remember that we cannot separate ourselves from the land on which we walk, the water we drink and the air we breathe.  These natural systems have sustained us and are fundamental elements of a healthy and vibrant economic system.  For the presidential candidates, this should be an easy one.  We already have a federal program- the Land and Water Conservation Fund - whose aim is to invest a portion of the lease revenues the federal government receives from leasing oil and gas rights in national parks and forests, state and local parks and forests, and in keeping privately owned working forests as privately owned working forests.  When the candidates return to N.H. this fall, ask them: 

  • Do you support funding the LWCF at its fully authorized amount of $900 million a year?
  • Do you support giving it permanent authorization so we will avoid what happened last year when its authorization was allowed to lapse?

The good news is that New Hampshire’s four electoral votes matter to the outcome of the presidential race.  Winning them may be the difference between taking the White House or becoming an historical footnote.  So I expect the nominees for both parties to spend a lot of time here in the fall.  So, if you run into them, ask them those questions.  If they and the media pundits can take up time debating whether particular candidate was born in Canada, they should be able to devote at least twice as much time telling us why the public funding of conservation efforts is essential to strengthening the quality of life for everyone in this country.