Monthly Archives: July 2020

Congress guarantees funding for the Land and Water Conservation Fund

The Jackson Foundation heartily applauds Congress for passing the Great American Outdoors Act. By fully funding the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF), it will provide billions of sorely needed resources to protect parks, public lands and waters. Last year the Fund was made permanent, and the new legislation provides a critical final step that assures its full allotment of dollars.

Senator Jackson introduced the original Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) Act in 1964. For over fifty years the Fund has contributed resources to acquire and preserve national and local parks, wild spaces, recreation areas, and the natural heritage of our country. The LWCF receives a small portion of lease royalties that are paid to the federal government for offshore energy development, combining smart economic and environmental policy. However, Congress has consistently diverted most LWCF dollars to other purposes.

The Jackson Foundation has championed the LWCF for over twenty years at critical moments in the legislation’s history. To educate lawmakers, we supported several reports highlighting the Fund’s place in guarding our nation’s outdoors, most recently in partnership with the Washington Wildlife & Recreation Coalition (WWRC). This report, funded by the Jackson Foundation, featured a number of projects throughout Washington State that had received LWCF funding, from the Dungeness National Wildlife Refuge to Spokane’s Friendship Park. The Foundation also supported WWRC in holding a series of roundtable discussions across the state to draw our Congressional members’ attention when the legislation neared its sunset in 2015.

The Jackson Foundation celebrates this success, which upholds a valuable piece of the Senator’s environmental legacy and protects our natural resources. The LWCF’s purpose is “to preserve, develop and assure accessibility to outdoor recreation resources for the American people.” This conservation program is critical as we see the positive impact of access to the outdoors on health and wellbeing, particularly during this pandemic.

We gratefully acknowledge the leadership that Senators Maria Cantwell and Patty Murray have provided to secure the LWCF’s full and permanent funding. Their consistent effort was essential in the passage of this bill, and we are encouraged by this model of bipartisan cooperation.

Read The Seattle Times story

Foundation calls for Global Magnitsky sanctions against pandemic-related corruption

The Jackson Foundation joined our partner Human Rights First, along with The Sentry, Freedom House, and twenty other NGOs, to urge the U.S. government to use the Global Magnitsky sanctions program to confront exploitation of the COVID-19 pandemic. The letter details immediate actions the Departments of State and Treasury can take to address corruption and ensure lifesaving aid reaches its intended beneficiaries.

The Global Magnitsky Act is a powerful sanctions tool against human rights abuse and corruption worldwide. The law targets individuals who have committed human rights violations or significant corruption, barring them from obtaining U.S. visas or using the U.S. banking system.

Human Rights First’s Senior Vice President Rob Berschinski said, “COVID-19 has forced governments and other donors to pour unprecedented sums of money into response efforts. The unfortunate corollary of this necessary response is an unparalleled opportunity for corrupt actors to enrich themselves at the public’s expense. In the Global Magnitsky Act, the U.S. government has a ready-made tool able to hold corrupt officials and their enablers to account. In the midst of this crisis, the government needs to show that it’s serious about using the Global Magnitsky Act to the fullest possible extent.”

The Global Magnitsky Act builds on the Jackson-Vanik Amendment, part of Senator Jackson’s legacy, which tied national economic sanctions to human rights abuses. The Global Magnitsky Act has also become a model for other countries to use sanctions to hold human rights abusers personally accountable. On July 6, the government of the United Kingdom announced its first-ever batch of 49 sanctions designations under its new “Global Magnitsky-like” sanctions program, which targeted human rights abusers in Russia, Saudi Arabia, North Korea, and Myanmar. For over a year, Jackson partner Human Rights First has advised the UK government on its effort.

We believe that encouraging the U.S. and other governments to utilize an effective, available sanctions tool and creating real consequences for corrupt actors exploiting the pandemic will have impact.  We commend our partner, Human Rights First, as well as The Sentry and Freedom House, for leading this meaningful effort.

Read the letter:

Jackson Foundation and partners inform new Congressional climate action plan

It’s often hard to know how much of a difference an organization like the Jackson Foundation is making on solving big problems, such as climate change.  So here’s an example that sheds some light.

The House Select Committee on the Climate Crisis recently issued a major report that serves as the House Democrats’ roadmap for climate legislation next year if there is a new administration and the Democrats take the majority in the Senate. We are happy to share that the chapter on climate and national security is based on a report produced by our partner, the Center for Climate and Security (CCS). This report, A Security Threat Assessment of Global Climate Change, was presented at a conference in Washington, D.C. in February.

The Foundation’s role in this area goes back eight years, to when Board Member Larry Phillips first urged us to take a leadership role regarding the intersection between climate change and national security. Since then, the Foundation has become known as a leading NGO in this space. That led to my attendance at an Aspen Institute conference on climate and national security in the summer of 2018. That forum, in turn, led the CCS to undertake its threat assessment report, which was intended to raise the profile of climate and security as a policy issue worthy of discussion in the presidential campaign. The Foundation provided major funding for the report as well as substantive input during the drafting process, and I spoke at the packed rollout conference in the Rayburn House Office Building in Washington, D.C. Furthermore, the recommendations within the national security chapter of the report draw heavily from CCS’ Climate Security Plan for America, which the Foundation also supported.

This all goes to show that the Foundation and our partners need to take the long view when assessing the impact of our work. Big changes in any field of public policy take years, and the connection between our efforts and the ultimate outcome may be hard to trace. In this case, we don’t yet know whether Congress will take decisive action on climate change next year. But we do know that, together, we helped raise the profile of that issue at a time when positive change is possible. I think that counts as making a difference.

Craig Gannett