MEREDITH — Rallying support for the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF), which Congress has so far been unwilling to reauthorize, United States Senate Jeanne Shaheen yesterday strolled along the town docks and through Hesky Park, two of nine projects in Meredith, which together have received $381,477 from the fund since it was established in 1965.
The senator was accompanied by Phil Byrce, director of the division of parks and recreation at the New Hampshire Department of Resources and economic Development, two of his colleagues, Eric Feldbaum and Bill Gegas, Cam Brensinger, chief executive officer of NEMO Equipment, Inc. of Dover, a manufacturer of outdoor gear, and John O'Brien of the Nature Conservancy.
Shaheen explained that LWCF is a partnership between the National Park Service and the states to acquire and develop land for public outdoor recreation. The program is funded exclusively with revenue from leases granted for off-shore drilling for oil and natural gas. She said that although the LWCF enjoys broad bipartisan support, reauthorization of the program, which is set to expire on September 30, has run afoul of dysfunctional congressional politics that threaten to shutdown the federal government.
Liz Lapham of the Great Meredith Program said that she was surprise to learn that the LWCF has funded the reconstruction and expansion of the town docks, renovation of Hesky Park and development of Scenic Park, three projects which distinguish the town's waterfront. "This is the most important part of town," she told Shaheen. "Residents and visitors are here all the time. Pointing to the Inn at Mill Falls, she said "it supports our local economy."
Bryce stressed that the LWCF finances "projects that are very close to local communities that often do not have alternative sources of funds." Gegas, who administers the program and monitors the projects, added that the investments represent "a perpetual commitment to maintain space for outdoor recreation on the part of local communities. It's forever, he said.
Shaheen asked local officials and residents to urge their representatives in Congress — Republican Frank Giunta in the 1st District and Democrat Anne Kuster in the 2nd District as well as Republican Senator Senator Kelly Ayotte — to reauthorize the LWCF.
Since the LWCF began approximately $40 million has been distributed in New Hampshire, including $27-million for more than 530 projects in 180 cities, towns, school districts and counties and $13 million for state-sponsored projects in state forests and parks. Belknap County has received more than $3 million, including some $635,000 for 14 projects in Laconia, including the recently opened Weirs Community Park.
CAPTION: United States Senator Jeanne Shaheen (center) toured the town docks in Meredith with Liz Lapham of the Greater Meredith Program to the left and Phil Byrce, director of the division of parks and recreation, John O'Brien of the Nature Conservancy, and Cam Bresinger of NEMO Equipment, Inc. to the right. (Courtesy photo).
- Category: Local News
- Hits: 600