ICYMI: Cisneros Op-Ed - Protecting Parks and Public Lands is Important for our Veterans
WASHINGTON, DC – For Veterans Day Representative Gilbert R. Cisneros, Jr. (CA-39) wrote an op-ed in the OC Register on the importance of permanently funding the Land Water and Conservation Act (LWCF). In the op-ed, Rep. Cisneros argues how the environment and public lands play an important role in the lives of our servicemembers and veterans. Rep. Cisneros also highlights some of the work he has done to support veterans as a member of the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee. The full op-ed is below.
By: Rep. Gilbert R. Cisneros, Jr.
Spending time in the outdoors gives me a sense of freedom. When I have something on my mind, I’ll often lace up my shoes and go for a run. I use this time to work through things that are on my mind, from thinking about a vote in D.C. or an issue that I’m hearing from my constituents at home. I come back with a clearer mind and often a problem solved.
I am not alone in finding peace from spending time doing physical activity in the outdoors. When I talk to my fellow veterans, I often hear a common theme about the connection that veterans feel when they’re outdoors. Spending time in nature - whether running, hiking, or playing soccer - is a good way to reconnect with one’s family and community after being away on a tour of duty. It provides a place of calm and healing.
Land Water Conservation Fund (LWCF)
That’s why this Veterans Day, I’m voicing my support for a key program that supports our public lands and parks: the Land and Water Conservation Fund. Created 50 years ago, this program collects royalties from oil and gas companies that extract our natural resources. Then, these funds go towards protecting and improving our parks, hiking trails, baseball fields, rivers, and more. LWCF doesn’t depend on taxpayer dollars and has always had strong support from both Democrats and Republicans.
LWCF is a program that always receives strong levels of support. In fact, when put to a vote earlier this year, LWCF was reauthorized on a bipartisan basis. But once piece still remains - it needs to be permanently and fully funded, and that’s going to take another vote in Congress.
Our community has benefited directly from the Land and Water Conservation Fund. Chino Hills State Park is a great spot to take a hike or see wildflowers in spring. Over the years, the park has received about $5.6 million from LWCF. To the north of us, LWCF has helped protect the San Gabriel Mountains. I know that many local families enjoy visiting both of these places and spending time in the outdoors.
The Land and Water Conservation Fund is also an important contributor to our economy. When we protect our public lands and parks, we’re investing in jobs that rely on outdoor recreation. People come to visit parks, and then may get lunch in a nearby restaurant or stay the night in a hotel. Our parks help provide jobs and fuel our local economy.
In the 39th Congressional District, residents spend $1.53 billion on outdoor recreation each year. And statewide, outdoor recreation is a major economic engine, supporting 691,000 jobs and $92 billion in consumer spending.
Veterans Day and the Land Water Conservation Fund
Veterans Day is an important time to honor the men and women who have faithfully served in our Armed Forces. I think of my father who served in Vietnam. I think of my brothers and sisters who I served with during my time in the U.S. Navy. And I reflect on the conversations I’ve had with the many veterans who are my constituents here in the 39th Congressional District.
I believe that it is our greatest duty as Americans to serve those who have served us. We must honor the promise we make to our men and women in uniform. I’ve made delivering on that promise a cornerstone of my work in Congress. I’ve had two pieces of veterans legislation pass the House on a bipartisan basis, a bill that would ensure the transition assistance program supports our women veterans and one that ensures benefit fact sheets are available in Spanish and Tagalog. In addition, the Veterans Affairs Committee is currently moving on my legislation to help provide legal assistance to our homeless veterans and to support the family members of veterans who develop ALS, or Lou Gehrig’s disease.
My priorities are the priorities of my district. That’s why I believe in the importance of protecting our public lands and parks as a promise to be kept to our veterans and all Americans.
Congress can do that by fully funding LWCF. I urge the leadership in the House of Representatives to bring this issue to a vote and deliver on this important promise.
Congressman Gil Cisneros represents the 39th Congressional District