The Trust for Public Land Action Fund sponsored the educational, grassroots, and legislative advocacy of the Land and Water Conservation Fund Coalition – a partnership of over 1,400 national, state, and local conservation and recreation organizations and businesses. After years of dedicated advocacy, in 2019, we celebrated the permanent re-authorization of the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF).
What Is the LWCF?
In 1964, Congress created the Land and Water Conservation Fund to safeguard the nation’s natural areas, water resources, wildlife habitat, working lands, and cultural and historic heritage, and to provide outdoor recreation opportunities to all Americans. It was a simple idea with broad bipartisan support: direct revenues from depleting one natural resource — offshore oil and gas — to conserve another: our great natural heritage.
LWCF uses a portion of oil and gas companies’ revenue from offshore drilling to protect the nation’s most iconic landscapes – and expand access to outdoor recreation. Every year, $900 million in royalties paid by energy companies drilling for oil and gas on the Outer Continental Shelf go into the fund. This money is intended to create and protect national parks, forests, and wildlife refuges and help states and communities fund park and recreation projects.
LWCF dollars continue to be diverted by Congress each year, leaving backlog of tens of billions in critical federal land acquisition needs — including private lands being sold for development inside national parks; billions in state park and recreation needs; and a host of other natural, cultural, historic and outdoor recreation projects. So while we celebrate permanent reauthorization, we continue to work to increase dedicated funds for LWCF.
From iconic national landscapes to local parks
Since 1965, LWCF has protected nearly five million acres of our nation’s irreplaceable natural and historic lands. This includes treasured places such as Yellowstone and Zion national parks, the Florida Everglades, Cape Cod National Seashore, Civil War battlefields such as Gettysburg and Antietam, and national scenic and historic trails including the Appalachian and the Pacific Crest trails.
With matching grants to states, LWCF has also been a catalyst for creating state and local funding that has made possible over 41,000 park and recreation projects in nearly every county in America. LWCF state grants leverage billions in additional state and local funds. LWCF also supports the Forest Legacy Program, which has helped protect over two million acres of important working forests and ensures sustainable economies and outdoor recreation opportunities in communities throughout the nation.