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From parks to playgrounds, wilderness to wetlands, bicycle paths to hiking trails, LWCF has helped communities nationwide acquire nearly seven million acres of parkland, water resources, and open space.
May 6, 2016: The U.S. Senate included language in the Energy Policy Modernization Act (S 2012) that it recently approved, which provides for the permanent reauthorization of the Land and Water Conservation Fund. revise priorities within LWCF to give state grants additional emphasis. It also creates a new $150 million per year National Park Maintenance and Revitalization Fund "for high-priority deferred maintenance needs of the Service that support critical infrastructure and visitor services."
Key provisions of the LWCF:
(1) not less than 40 percent shall be used collectively for Federal purposes under section 200306;
(2) not less than 40 percent shall be used collectively—
(A) to provide financial assistance to States under section 200305;
(B) for the Forest Legacy Program established under section 7 of the Cooperative Forestry Assistance Act of 1978 (16 U.S.C. 2103c);
(C) for cooperative endangered species grants authorized under section 6 of the Endangered Species Act of 1973 (16 U.S.C. 1535); and
(D) for the American Battlefield Protection Program established under chapter 3081; and
(3) not less than 1.5 percent or $10,000,000, whichever is greater, shall be used for projects that secure recreational public access to Federal public land for hunting, fishing, or other recreational purposes.
December 16, 2015: The Land and Water Conservation Fund, hailed as America’s best conservation program, was reauthorized by Congress. The authorization for this critical program expired for the first time in its 50-year history on September 30. The authorization was included in the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2016 (H.R. 2029) that also guarantees $450 million in funding for LWCF in 2016, a significant increase over the past several years’ appropriations, and $50 million more than proposed in the President’s budget. In its 50-year history, LWCF has helped build trails, parks, river put-ins, trailheads, and access to climbing areas in all 50 states.
August 7, 2015: Legislation approved by the Senate Energy Committee would reauthorize the LWCF permanently. Most of the funds would be split 40-40 between federal projects and grants to states for local projects, including trails and greenways. This 40 percent minimum for “grants to states” would also include USFS Forest Legacy programs for “working forests," USFWS Cooperative Endangered Species Conservation, and the the NPS American Battlefield Protection Program. The bill would also establish a separate National Park Service maintenance account.
Meanwhile, the Senate Appropriations Committee passed a separate FY 2016 appropriations bill (S 1645). It would appropriate $157.5 million for the federal land acquisition and $55 million for state grants. On the House side, a bill said to be stalled on the floor would appropriate $91 million for the federal side and $48 million for the state side. LWCF’s current authorization will expire on September 30. Read more from the National Recreation and Park Association...
February 13, 2015: The Obama administration’s fiscal year 2016 budget request asks for substantial increases in Federal land management, and also addresses more funding for the Land and Water Conservation Fund. For fiscal 2016 the administration requested $235.8 million for federal land acquisition and $53.2 million for state grants from the fund.
While there is bipartisan support for extending LWCF funding, the February 3, 2015 issue of Federal Parks & Recreation reported on the complications with the request:
"In releasing a fiscal 2016 budget request the administration recommended for LWCF that Congress
(1) appropriate $400 million in fiscal 2016 and
(2), by separate authorizing legislation, guarantee an additional $500 million through an extended rewrite of the law."
Senate Energy Committee Chairman Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), said that she planned to take up reauthorizing the LWCF in the energy committee." She also commented on changes that some Republicans want: “Another structural change I know some are interested in is to improve management by setting aside some of LWCF funding to address the combined maintenance backlog of federal land management agencies.”
The LWCF Coalition, a national organization supporting LWCF funding, stated "The $900 million proposed for LWCF upholds the 50-year-old promise that a small portion of the revenues derived from offshore oil and gas development is dedicated to make strategic investments to protect America’s irreplaceable natural, historic and recreational outdoor areas."
For a concise summary of the program and its benefits see the 2014 report: "The Land and Water Conservation Fund – 50 Years of Conserving America the Beautiful" (download pdf 13.4 mb)
For more information on LWCF and the places in each state conserved using LWCF funds, visit www.lwcfcoalition.org.
The Highline Canal Trail, funded over years with LWCF dollars
MORE RESOURCES FOR LWCF
LWCF Coalition Website (background information, case studies, legislative information, news, how to take action, and more)
LWCF info by State and graph of LWCF Funding and Offshore Energy Revenue from FY00 – FY09
2010 survey shows strong voter support for continued funding of the LWCF, with voters overwhelmingly in favor dedicating at least $900 million a year to the LWCF (pdf 635 kb)
Sample State information page:
Ways to take action and talking points (regarding this being a bipartisan program with bipartisan support):
National Recreation and Park Association’s "Full Funding for LWCF Fact Sheet"
Action Alert: Thanking LWCF Champs and Educating New Members, from The Wilderness Society
Interactive map of sampling of LWCF projects across the country from the Nature Conservancy:
Find your Congressional Representative based on your ZIP code: http://www.house.gov/zip/ZIP2Rep.html
Read more about current funding for trails, parks, outdoor recreation, and federal land management on the American Trails website: