Land & Water Conservation Fund Reauthorized for Three Years!

Rocky Fork Track Acquired with LWCF Funds Photo: David Ramsey

Congress passed an omnibus spending bill that includes a provision to reauthorize the popular Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) for three years. For the past 50 years, the LWCF has provided a reliable source of funding to purchase lands important for outdoor recreation and habitat conservation. The spending bill also guarantees $450 million in funding for LWCF in 2016, a significant increase over the past several years’ appropriations.
President Lyndon Johnson signed the LWCF into law in 1964, creating a fund that would take royalties from oil and gas drilling and put those dollars into land acquisition for recreation and conservation. The fund cost taxpayers nothing. The fund expired in October when Congress failed to reauthorize it despite broad and deep bipartisan support. Though LWCF advocates had hoped for permanent reauthorization, the three-year renewal is an important lifeline for the conservation program.
“LWCF is a critical tool to protect our open spaces in Washington and around the country: The increase in real funding and a three year reauthorization will allow us to do important work in our state. I will continue to push for permanent reauthorization,” said Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash.
Congress has the authority to appropriate up to $900 million annually for the LWCF. Many Conservation Alliance grantees have used our grants to cover the staff time necessary to secure funding from the LWCF. Between 2007-2013, we made grants totaling $400,000 to 12 different organizations that leveraged those funds to win $99 million in grants from the LWCF, multiplying our investment nearly 250 times.
The outdoor industry has fought for years to fully fund the LWCF, and more recently to ensure its reauthorization. Our colleagues at Outdoor Industry Association and Outdoor Alliance worked hard on the reauthorization effort this year. We celebrate today with them, and with our colleagues in the conservation community who use the LWCF to save important wild places. And now we have three more years to work for the permanent reauthorization of the LWCF with guaranteed full funding at $900 million annually. Stay tuned!