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Our favorite stories about public lands and opportunities for you to get involved in protecting your outdoor experiences.


The Last Chance for the Land and Water Conservation Fund

Tania Lown-Hecht

By early December, Congress needs to pass an "omnibus appropriations" bill to fund the work of government agencies and keep the government running. Congress is on track to pass this omnibus bill because they want to avoid another government shutdown.

This means that this next week is the last good chance for Congress to reauthorize the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF), a program that reinvests revenue from offshore gas and drilling back into conservation and recreation projects in all 50 states. LWCF has helped to create mountain biking trails, river access points, restrooms and parking at trailheads, trail improvements, and to create more protected open space.

Our hope is that LWCF will be included in the “omnibus” bill that is likely to pass in the next 10 days or so. The reason it's called an "omnibus" is that ordinarily, Congress would work on 12 separate spending bills for different parts of the government through the normal legislative process.  In this case, Congressional leaders try to work out one big "omnibus" package behind closed doors and present it to rank-and-file members as must-pass. This creates an atmosphere conducive to deal making, and there are going to be a lot of attempts to get various projects into the bill. Some of those things are going to be bad—like trying to take money away from the Clean Power Plan or blocking the Clean Water Rules. But some of them are really important, like fixing fire funding and reauthorizing LWCF.

Many legislators are already working hard to get LWCF included in the bill (Senator Shaheen published a great op-ed in the Huffington Post last week insisting that the program be included), but with so many bills on the table, it’s really important that Congress get reminded loudly and clearly that LWCF needs to be one of the programs included in the bill. LWCF has broad, bipartisan support, so it's appropriate that it's included in an omnibus package.

Right now is a crucial time to reach out to your representatives and remind them that LWCF needs to be included in the bill. As Congress tries to figure out what to include in the omnibus, they rely on hearing from constituents to ensure the right balance of bills are included. Take a moment to write your rep today. Even if you’ve written your representatives already (you rock!), now is a good time to write a follow up email. We’ve made it easy with a tool to look up and submit a message.

Tell Your Reps to Protect Our Conservation Fund: