Access Fund Tells Congress “Common Sense” Budget Needed for Depts. Interior and Agriculture

Date: 4/14/2011

Access Fund’s Executive Director Brady Robinson today testified before the House Appropriations Committee on Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies, asking for adequate funding for the Departments of Interior and Agriculture to ensure sufficient access for Americans to parks and public lands. The hearing considered spending priorities for the FY 2012 budget.

“Americans should have access to public lands—from community playgrounds to Yosemite National Park—for recreational activities,” testified Robinson. “What’s more, this outdoor access supports a growing $730 billion industry—representing more than 6.6 million jobs and more than $88 billion in annual tax revenue. This isn’t just about saving the environment. It’s about saving private sector and small town jobs.”

The Access Fund’s testimony supports a common sense budget approach that will adequately fund Departments of Interior and Agriculture, focusing on activities that are essential to providing public recreation access to high quality public lands and waters.

Robinson said: “Our experience shows that adequate funding for federal land managers is required to support the access and enjoyment of the cherished public lands and rivers they manage…. indiscriminate budget cuts to these agencies would mean less access to and conservation of our public land.”

In his testimony, Robinson illustrated cases, such as for rock climbers, in which public access suffers when federal land managers have inadequate funding: “The Red River Gorge in Kentucky’s Daniel Boone National Forest contains one of the largest concentrations of high quality rock in the United States and attracts visitors from around the world, yet the Forest Service doesn’t have the resources to balance all of its obligations and still provide for the proper management of these world class climbing opportunities.” In such scenarios, local economies suffer.

In addition to representing the Access Fund, the national advocacy organization that keeps climbing areas open and conserves the climbing environment, Robinson testified for the Outdoor Alliance, a coalition of hiking, climbing, paddling, mountain biking, and backcountry skiing groups that work to ensure the conservation and stewardship of our nation’s land and waters through the promotion of sustainable, human-powered recreation on our nation’s public lands and waters.

The Access Fund’s testimony highlighted priorities for funding public land access and conservation for our national parks, forests, and bureau of land management areas. Robinson underscored that the Outdoor Alliance groups have extensive experience working with federal land managers across the country concerning recreation and conservation policies.

The Access Fund and Outdoor Alliance testimony also provided funding recommendations for National Park Service recreation management, US Forest Service roads and trails maintenance, the Bureau of Land Management’s National Landscape Conservation System, the Land and Water Conservation Fund, and Wild and Scenic River protection, among other things.