Do you ever wonder how you’d go about creating a new trail or better parking at a trailhead or a new put-in for your boat or getting access to some sweet public lands that are blocked by a private residence?
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 places and improve outdoor recreation opportunities. LWCF is a simple idea, embraced across the aisle, for more than 50 years.
The program was created in 1964, with the idea that we should use some of the revenue from offshore oil and gas drilling to create new protected public lands. How exactly does the program work? When counties, states, or national agencies like the Park Service, need to build a new trail, upgrade a parking area, buy a trailhead from a willing seller, or even purchase land to make a new local park or baseball field, they can use funding from LWCF to make it happen.
Over the life of the program, LWCF has funded critical protections for river corridors in places like West Virginia’s Gauley and New Rivers and helped establish public river access points for canoers, kayakers, and rafters in places like Washington’s White Salmon River. LWCF has made possible thousands of miles of singletrack for mountain bikers and hikers, including at areas like the world-class trail system at Lory State Park near Fort Collins, Colorado, and Toro Park, California, home to challenging trails and spectacular views of Monterey Bay. LWCF has funded close-to-home recreation opportunities in all fifty states and every congressional district. Check out the map to learn more about the recreation LWCF has protected near you.
In exactly two months on September 30, LWCF will expire unless it is renewed by Congress. You can make a difference today, it’s easy! Congress is supportive of LWCF but has not prioritized voting on it yet. Take action today to tell Congress this program is a priority to you. We’ve made it super easy to look up and send your lawmaker a message.
Photo credits: Katie Strong, Greyson Howard Media, American Whitewater, Hunter Day