Mayor Don Wesely and representatives of local environmental groups today announced their support for the federal Conservation and Reinvestment Act (CARA). The U.S. House has already passed the bill, and the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee is scheduled to consider the legislation next week.
"Passage of this bill would be a huge financial boost for preservation, recreation and conservation programs in Lincoln," Mayor Wesely said. The bill would provide at least $9.6 million annually to Nebraska through three of the major CARA programs in which the state is involved:
The LWCF program has contributed more than $1.7 million to outdoor recreation projects in Lincoln in the last 30 years. From 1995 to 1999, LWCF funds were reallocated to other programs and not available.
"Money for many of our picnic shelters, tennis courts and our big parks like Mahoney and Holmes came from LWCF," Wesely said. "An example of an area that could benefit from CARA is Wilderness Park, for which funding has not been available in the budget."
"The Land and Water Conservation Fund has historically been very important to Lincoln's parks," said city Parks and Recreation Director Lynn Johnson.
The state may also receive money through the Conservation Easements and Endangered Species Recovery program in the bill.
Attending today's news conference were members of the Mayor's Environmental Advisory Committee, officials from the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission and representatives of the Nebraska Wildlife Federation, the Wachiska Audubon Society, the Nebraska Sierra Club, Friends of Wilderness Park, the Nature Conservancy and the American Society of Landscape Architects. The U.S. Conference of Mayors also supports CARA and is sending a delegation of mayors to lobby for the bill in Washington.