Today, there’s big news that will impact everyone who loves getting outside.
The Land and Water Conservation Fund, hailed as America’s best conservation program, will be reauthorized this week after expiring at the end of September. In its 50-year history, LWCF has helped build trails, parks, river put-ins, trailheads, and access to climbing areas in 50 states. If you love to ski, hike, climb, bike, picnic, camp, or paddle, you have probably benefitted from LWCF. Since its expiration in September, the outdoor recreation community and the larger conservation community have been raising a ruckus with policymakers about reauthorizing the fund.
You wrote moving stories about why you love public lands, tweeted at your Congresscritters, called your representatives, and visited DC to tell policymakers why the Land and Water Conservation Fund matters. Thanks to the outpouring from our community and others, Congress included reauthorization of the program in its omnibus bill. In an incredibly tough political environment, we can count this as a huge success.
The program was reauthorized for 3 years at $450 million. The good news is that $450 million is 50% more than the fund has gotten in the last few years. The bummer here is that we had hoped for permanent reauthorization at $900 million. This means that there will be more work to do to get the program permanently reauthorized.
Every letter, call, tweet, and office visit ensured that this program stayed on Congress’s radar, and we have you to thank for that. With so much at stake, you made sure that Congress couldn’t afford to leave LWCF on the table. Why is this so huge? There were an immense number of issues vying for a spot in the omnibus bill, and LWCF made it in. Given the context of the Zombie LWCF bill, the fact that the program had expired, and the anxiety in the last week that the program wouldn’t even make it into the omnibus, the reauthorization is big news and a cause for celebration.
To say we are stoked is an understatement.