Land and Water Conservation Fund Reauthorization On Slippery Slope

First committee level hurdle cleared

The Land and Water Conservation Fund was established by Congress in 1964 to fulfill a bipartisan commitment to safeguard our natural areas, water resources and cultural heritage, and to provide recreation opportunities to all Americans. Using zero taxpayer dollars, the fund invests earnings from offshore oil and gas leasing to help strengthen communities, preserve our history and protect our national endowment of lands and waters. As the Land and Water Conservation Fund Coalition explains: “It was a simple idea: use revenues from the depletion of one natural resource – offshore oil and gas – to support the conservation of another precious resource – our land and water.” 

The LWCF is one of the least known or understood programs in our nation. The vast majority of citizens who benefit every day from the LWCF has no idea that it exists. One consequence of our ignorance? Every year, Congress is emboldened to divert millions in LWCF monies to projects that have nothing to do with the goals of the fund. Some in Congress, their eyes on the LWCF money and knowing that too many Americans are uninformed about what is at stake, want to get rid of the LWCF altogether.

40,000+

Projects have been funded in every county in the nation through the LWCF since 1965.

2.37M+

Acres of forest have been protected through grants provided by the LWCF.

$4.1B

Dollars provided in matching grants ($8.2B total) to the states.

$0

Cost to U.S. taxpayers for expanded access for hunting and fishing.

Initially authorized for a 25-year period, the LWCF was extended for another 25 years and expired September 30, 2015. The fund was temporarily extended for 3 years in the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2016, and will expire September 30, 2018, unless it's reauthorized by Congress.

Thankfully on 9/13/2018 the first step in progress toward reauthorization was taken as the House of Representatives Natural Resource Committee passed a HR 502, which would permanently reauthorize the fund. But there is much more work that needs to be done before the looming deadline. The bill must still pass the full House, pass the Senate, and be signed by President Trump before we're on solid ground. Here's more details on HR 502, according to Outdoor Life.

  • Permanent reauthorization of LWCF (avoiding the need for future brinksmanship).
  • Sets 40 percent of the funding aside for state-level projects (as opposed to federal projects like national forests, national wildlife refuges or national parks).
  • Doubles the requirement for funding projects with specific benefits for hunting, fishing and outdoor recreation, from 1.5 percent to 3 percent.

Time is slipping away!

One of America's most successful conservation programs, the Land and Water Conservation Fund, will simply expire unless we do something about it. Contact your congressional delegates now and let them know that they need to push this new bill through so authorization is permanent.