Category: News

Rubio, Mast Reintroduce Land and Water Conservation Act

March 15, 2023

U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) and U.S. Representative Brian Mast (R-FL) have reintroduced the Land and Water Conservation Fund Amendments Act, which aims to increase flexibility and enable states to utilize existing funds to support water quality projects.

The Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) is currently only used for land acquisition and related recreation efforts, but the new bill would expand the eligibility to include water quality and ecosystem restoration projects. This would allow states like Florida to use existing federal funding to restore aquatic lands and waters and improve water quality, which in turn reduces the risk of harmful algal blooms.

“Protecting and restoring Florida’s water quality is critically important for our state. Allowing existing LWCF funds to be used for ecosystem restoration and water quality projects will give our state additional resources to improve our state’s ecosystems, reduce nutrient loads in our waterways, and reduce the risk of harmful algal blooms,” Senator Rubio said.

The legislation would make around $100 million in existing federal funding available for water quality projects in Florida over the next ten years, without the need for authorizing or appropriating new funds. With the requirement that LWCF monies be matched by the non-federal recipient, the bill would allow around $200 million in total to be made available for water quality projects over the next decade.

“Water quality and recreation go hand-in-hand in the Sunshine State. Far too often, toxic algae keeps folks from enjoying all that Florida has to offer, so it makes perfect sense to expand LWCF eligibility to water quality projects. Florida taxpayers contribute to this fund, so there’s no reason we shouldn’t be able to use it to fix the problems in our community,” Representative Mast said.

The lawmakers first introduced the legislation in 2021, and now they hope to pass the bill to support the restoration of Florida’s aquatic lands and waters and promote more enjoyable outdoor recreation experiences for residents and visitors.

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