Alaska’s Chugach State Park. Photo by Katie Strong
Have you heard about the 52-year-old conservation program that has strong bipartisan support and is one of the most effective tools we have to protect public lands and improve recreation access, yet somehow is teetering on the edge of a cliff?
If you’ve never heard of the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) — or perhaps you have but you’re not totally sure what it is — you’re not alone. LWCF doesn’t draw a lot of headlines, except for times like now when we’re on the verge of losing it.
Congress created the LWCF in 1965, with the idea that we should use some of the revenue from offshore oil and gas drilling to protect areas from development and improve public access to public lands. Each year $900 million in off-shore drilling revenue goes into the Land and Water Conservation Fund. This money is available to federal, state, and local governments to purchase land, purchase easements across private land and water for public access, and to build and maintain recreation infrastructure.
Unfortunately, almost every year, Congress diverts much of this funding to other uses, leading to a substantial backlong in LWCF-eligible projects. Even so, LWCF has played a substantial role in protecting public lands and improving recreation opportunities across America for the past 5 decades.
Over the life of the program, LWCF has funded close-to-home recreation opportunities in all fifty states and every congressional district. From local swimming pools to state parks, river access sites and climbing crags to entirely new parcels of public land, LWCF has directed over $17 billion to public lands conservation and recreation since it was first enacted. Check out this Outdoor Alliance interactive map to learn more about the public lands and recreation opportunities LWCF has protected near you.
So what’s the problem? On September 30, LWCF will expire unless it is renewed by Congress. You can make a difference today, it’s easy! Congress is supportive of LWCF but has not prioritized voting on it yet. Take action today to tell Congress this program is a priority to you. We’ve made it super easy to send your lawmaker a message. Just use the form below!