IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 1, 2001

Conference Urges Congress to Approve City and State Parks Money, Praises Bush for His Support

On behalf of The United States Conference of Mayors, Knoxville Mayor Victor Ashe, a Past President of the Conference and a nationally recognized leader on parks and land conservation issues, today called on Congress to approve President Bush's budget proposal to provide more money to cities across the nation to acquire new urban parks.

"President Bush has kept the promise he made last June to Mayors at our Annual Meeting in Seattle, where he pledged support for full funding of the Land and Water Conservation Fund," Ashe said. "No President in twenty years has done this."

In his address to Congress and the American people on Tuesday night (2/27/01), President Bush called for the full funding of the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF), the federal program that is responsible for helping to build many new parks in many communities. The LWCF is funded through offshore drilling royalties and has put millions of dollars in local hands to build new recreational facilities in the last decade.

Bush’s budget outline proposes full funding of the LWCF at $900 million, including $450 million for state and local conservation grants—the highest LWCF budget request in history. If appropriated, this funding would allow local governments to acquire additional land for conservation and park programs.

In the last session of Congress the Conference supported legislation known as the Conservation and Reinvestment Act, or CARA, and through last year’s Presidential campaign met with key officials on the Bush team to voice their support for this legislation. Had CARA passed, it would have provided permanent annual funding of $450 million for the state and local assistance program of the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF)—the exact amount proposed by President Bush in his budget outline.

Since local governments will need to apply to the states for the LWCF funds, Ashe and other Conference leaders cautioned that safeguards must be established to ensure that these funds are passed through to local governments. "I am excited about this becoming a reality and urge Mayors and local government officials across America to write their congressmen on this," Ashe said. "This recommendation does not assure passage. There is still work to be done."

"This means America's favorite park...the one down the street...can be funded and made better," Ashe added. "I will continue my efforts as a former president of The United States Conference of Mayors to lobby the members of the Tennessee Delegation as well as the entire Congress to approve full funding for the LWCF."

CONTACT: Tom McClimon or Jubi Headley, (202) 293-7330

The United States Conference of Mayors is the official nonpartisan organization of cities with populations of 30,000 or more. There are about 1,100 such cities in the country today. Each city is represented in the Conference by its chief elected official, the mayor.

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©2004 U.S. Conference of Mayors