SEATTLE - Some Washington veterans are skipping today's traditional Veteran's Day celebrations to demonstrate a different kind of patriotism: They're defending the environment. A Seattle group will rally in support of the U.S. military's pledge to reduce fossil fuel consumption.
One of the participants is Rick Hegdahl, Bellevue, a Navy vet. He says he's also asking the Washington congressional delegation to support full funding of the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF). It's royalty money from offshore oil and gas leases that is supposed to be used to protect public lands, but Hegdahl says that in most years, Congress siphons it off for all kinds of uses.
"This money's just being taken for other purposes. Unfortunately, the damage that happens because of that costs more in the long run. This is our heritage. We should be taking much better care of what we have."
In the 45 years the Fund has been in existence, it has received its full $900 million national allocation only twice, Hegdahl says. He believes American soldiers would rather be fighting to preserve a beautiful country than to protect overseas oil interests.
"Some of the great wonders of the world are right here in the United States. If we're not willing to protect those for future generations, then what are we defending? Are we defending corporate interests?"
Next week, the U.S. Senate considers legislation for full funding of LWCF in the coming year.
Hegdahl points to many parks and trails in the state of Washington that have benefited from the LWCF. Some of the best-known are in the Skagit River area, Mount Rainier National Park and the Columbia Gorge National Scenic Area.
The rally begins at 10:30 a.m. today in the Peace Garden at Seattle Center.