Land and Water Conservation Fund

The Trust for Public Land Action Fund sponsors the educational, grassroots, and legislative advocacy of the Land and Water Conservation Fund Coalition to reauthorize and win permanent full funding of the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF). The coalition is a partnership of over 1,000 national, state, and local conservation and recreation organizations.

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.

A broken promise to the American people

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.

Yet, nearly every year, Congress takes two-thirds of this funding for other uses. Diverting LWCF dollars has left a backlog of an estimated $30 billion in critical federal land acquisition needs — including private lands being sold for development inside national parks; $27 billion in state park and recreation needs; and a host of other natural, cultural, historic and outdoor recreation projects.

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 41,000 park and recreation projects in nearly every county in America. LWCF state grants of $3.7 billion have leveraged $7.4 billion 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.