If you’ve never heard of the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF), you’re not alone. Yet LWCF is one of the most effective tools we have to conserve land and improve outdoor recreation opportunities, and it expires this September. LWCF was created in 1965, with the idea that a small portion of the revenue from offshore oil and gas drilling would go back into conservation. The LWCF Coalition calls the fund: “a simple idea: use revenues from the depletion of one natural resource - offshore oil and gas - to support the conservation of another precious resource - our land and water.”
What exactly does LWCF do? It provides resources for developing recreational resources, like trails, and provides funding to acquire land from willing sellers and make it part of local, state, or national public lands. This is important in places like southwest Montana, where private property blocks access to public lands. LWCF also provides funding for close-to-home recreational opportunities, creating new parks in urban environments or areas that are underserved by outdoor recreation opportunities. In addition, these funds are an important tool for reducing the cost of managing land. For example, on Mt. Rainier in Washington, costly floods repeatedly destroyed a bridge across a canyon. LWCF funds helped the acquire land that enabled land managers to relocate the trail and eliminate the risk—and cost—of having a bridge washed out during the rainy season.
Outdoor Alliance today shared testimony on the importance of LWCF for outdoor recreation opportunities. We argue that LWCF is crucial “for creating access to broader landscapes on the federal estate, as well as an invaluable tool for protecting particularly exemplary locations when offered by willing sellers.”
This year, LWCF will expire unless it is renewed by Congress. Read our letter about LWCF to the House here and to the Senate here. And if you want to take action, use Facebook or Twitter to share this post using the “Share” button below.