Last month, the Senate Energy and Natural Resources committee voted to permanently fund the program. While the LWCF had bipartisan support within the committee, it will face a full floor vote during the current budget negotiations with a December 21, 2019 deadline. 

The Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) is a federal program that was established by Congress in 1965 that provides funds and matching grants to federal, state and local governments for outdoor recreation projects, parks, protected forests and wildlife areas. The funding for the LWCF comes from royalties paid by oil and gas companies who drill offshore in federally-owned water. The LWCF is our nation’s most important program to conserve public lands to grow local outdoor recreation economies. 

In February 2019, Congress passed the John D. Dingell, Jr. Conversation, Management and Recreation Act, which designated more than 1.3 million acres of wilderness area, expanded several national parks and established four new national monuments. The rare bipartisan act also permanently reauthorized the Land and Water Conservation Fund. Unfortunately, this does not provide assurance that the LWCF will receive its full $900 million funding. In fact, the program has only been fully funded twice in the five decades of its existence. 

The LWCF is an invaluable component of the recreation economy and plays a critical role in developing economies, particularly in rural areas. Access to outdoor spaces creates quality of

life in American communities and is a proven component of economic prosperity. According to the Outdoor Industry Association’s 2017 National Recreation Economy Report, hunting, fishing, camping, hiking, paddling and other outdoor recreation activities contribute a total of $887 billion annually to the economy and supports 7.6 million American jobs. This sector generates $65.3 billion annually in federal tax revenue, as well as $59.2 billion in annual state and local tax revenue.

Last month, the Senate Energy and Natural Resources committee voted to permanently fund the program. While the LWCF had bipartisan support within the committee, it will face a full floor vote during the current budget negotiations with a December 21, 2019 deadline. 

If you’d like to contact your current congressional representative to show support for the LWCF, you can find their contact information here. 

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