A month ago, Congress let the Land and Water Conservation Fund expire. The LWCF is one of the best tools we have to protect access to recreation and create new parks and open spaces across the country, and as we said when it expired, we will continue working to ensure the Fund is eventually reauthorized. What’s been going on since September 30?
- LWCF is getting a lot of attention in Washington. Many public lands champions in Congress are working hard to get the Fund renewed. Last week, President Obama even dedicated his weekly address to discussing LWCF and advocating for its reauthorization. LWCF has fans, and they are vocal!
- Champions of LWCF are looking for creative ways to get it passed in an especially stagnant Congress.
- In the Senate, one option is to attach LWCF to a bill that is likely to pass before the end of the year. One of those bills, intended to reform the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), has the votes it needs to pass through Congress. Some members of Congress, including one of LWCF’s best champions, Senator Burr (R-NC), are lobbying for LWCF to be included with the bill.
- In the House, there will be a hearing in mid-November for an “overhaul” of the LWCF, hastily being assembled by Representative Rob Bishop (R-UT). Based on Rep. Bishop’s past statements about LWCF, supporters of the law have every reason to be incredibly wary about this effort. Rep. Bishop has been, by many accounts, the principal obstacle to LWCF reauthorization, and supporters of the program should encourage their congressional representatives to support this incredibly effective program’s reauthorization without drastic changes.
- What’s the most likely outcome for renewing the Fund? Although it would be great if Congress decided to introduce the bill and pass it today, we’re hopeful that LWCF will be passed with an “omnibus bill” late in the year. An omnibus bill is a collection of measures (often on different issues) that is accepted with one vote. For better or worse, omnibus bills limit the amount of debate that can happen on a single bill.
What can you do? The best thing to do is keeping making noise—dedicate a Facebook post or tweet to #LWCF, or write your Congressperson and ask them to get the Fund renewed. Use our tool here to compose a letter to your legislators.