Preservation Leaders Urge Passage of Federal Legislation to Protect Land, Water and Historic Treasures

Date:   September 17, 2010
Contact:   Tom Gilbert, The Trust for Public Land, 267-261-7325 or
Ursula Reed, FWWIC/W3R PA, 215- 287-4479 or
Alison Zemanski, National Parks Conservation Association, 202-454-3332 or

Preservation Leaders Urge Passage of Federal Legislation to Protect Land, Water and Historic Treasures

Philadelphia, PA— Local and national preservation leaders gathered at the National Historic Landmark Fairmount Waterworks today to urge the U.S. Senate to pass legislation this fall to fully fund the Land & Water Conservation Fund and the Historic Preservation Fund.  On the banks of the Schuylkill River, they highlighted local and regional land, water and historic preservation initiatives that depend on a greater and more reliable federal investment in these critical federal preservation programs that have been chronically underfunded.

“The Land and Water Conservation Fund has benefited Pennsylvania in countless ways.  Over the last 45 years, the fund has helped to protect pieces of our Commonwealth’s landscape and to preserve some of our greatest national treasures,” said Senator Robert Casey.  “This is why it is essential that Congress provides consistent and sufficient funding so that we as a nation are able to conserve parts of our unique and beautiful heritage.”

One of the initiatives highlighted was the Washington-Rochambeau Revolutionary Route (W3R) National Historic Trail – extending 685 miles from Newport, RI to Yorktown, VA over land and water routes that go through Philadelphia where there was an American Revolution camp site near Market Street on what we now know as Schuylkill Banks - adjacent to the Fairmount Water Works.

“As the only National Historic Trail east of the Appalachian Mountains, it offers immense opportunities for conservation, education, recreation and historic preservation for tens of millions of people,” said Dr. Robert Selig, project historian for the W3R. "It may well be our last chance to preserve and protect from development hundreds of lesser-known historic sites of the march to victory in 1781, which keep alive the memory of the men who marched, fought, and died for American Independence.”

 The Land and Water Conservation (LWCF), established in 1965, is authorized to receive $900 million annually in royalties from off-shore drilling for oil and gas to fund federal, state and local land, water and historic preservation projects, and provide parks and outdoor recreation for all Americans.  Pennsylvania has received over $300 million through LWCF since its inception, including funds to purchase lands within Valley Forge National Historic Park, Gettysburg National Military Park and the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area, and to develop numerous parks and recreation areas in Philadelphia including the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Park in South Philadelphia.

"Many believe that all of the land within our national parks is forever protected.  Unfortunately, this is not true and many areas inside park boundaries remain in the hands of private owners, including over 2200 acres in Pennsylvania, leaving them at risk from inappropriate development," said Cinda Waldbuesser, Pennsylvania senior program manager for the National Parks Conservation Association. "We must ensure that funding is available to protect these lands for our children and grandchildren to enjoy."

LWCF is supposed to receive $900 million per year from offshore drilling revenues that typically tally over $5 billion, but despite an increase in energy production, money that was intended to protect our land, water and history has been largely diverted elsewhere, not invested in this program as promised.  On July 30th, the U.S. House of Representatives passed legislation in response to the BP oil spill in the Gulf, the Consolidated Land, Energy, and Aquatic Resources Act of 2009 (CLEAR Act, HR 3534), which would establish dedicated annual funding at the program’s fully authorized level of $900 million and also provide $150 million each year for the Historic Preservation Fund.  The Senate must still act on similar legislation this fall.

Philip Price, Chair of the Fairmount Water Works Interpretive Center Advisory Committee, former State Senator and Fairmount Park Commissioner said “LWCF funding and additional Historic Preservation Funds would greatly enhance Fairmount Park and its many authentic historic sites boosting the heritage tourism economy throughout this region.”

With the leadership of Senators Casey and Specter, we urge the Senate to enact legislation this fall to protect our land, water and heritage for generations to come,” said Tom Gilbert, Regional Conservation Services Director with The Trust for Public Land.  “We applaud Representatives Brady, Fattah, Murphy, Schwartz and Sestak for supporting the CLEAR Act and full, dedicated funding for the Land and Water Conservation Fund and the Historic Preservation Fund.”

The event was sponsored by the Appalachian Mountain Club, Delaware and Lehigh National Heritage Corridor, Fairmount Waterworks Interpretive Center, LWCF Coalition, National Parks Conservation Association, National Trust for Historic Preservation, Schuylkill Banks, Schuylkill River National and State Heritage Area, The Trust for Public, and Washington-Rochambeau Revolutionary Route PA.



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