Permanent Conservation Funding Nears Finish Line in Congress
By: Greg Peters, Public Lands & Wildlife Advocate
Created by Congress in 1964, the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) was a bipartisan commitment to safeguard natural areas, water
resources, and our cultural heritage, and provide recreation opportunities to all Americans. The program uses offshore oil and gas royalties—at no cost to taxpayers—to help fund critical investments in our lands and waters in all 50 states.
While LWCF has enormous potential to protect our public lands, it needs funding to be allocated by Congress in order to move forward with its mission. Since its creation, Congress has only allocated full funding for LWCF twice. This has resulted in more than $22 billion dollars going to non-conservation projects instead of improving communities across the country.
Last May, we celebrated the passage of the LWCF Permanent Reauthorization Act, legislation that dedicated funding to LWCF. However, there is still more to be done because the legislation failed to provide full and permanent funding for the program.
Joining states across the country, we traveled to Washington D.C. in November to ask members of Congress to fully fund LWCF in perpetuity. We met with all five of our delegation members in person and conveyed the importance of permanent funding so the program can fully realize its potential. Since then we have continued to provide a steady drumbeat of public outreach and education on the importance of full, permanent, and dedicated funding. We are grateful for the leadership and commitment New Mexico’s delegation has shown in its support of funding LWCF.
This March saw exciting developments; only weeks after the White House released its budget that included a 97% cut to LWCF, the President tweeted support for a LWCF permanent funding bill. Shortly thereafter, the Senate introduced S.3422, The Great American Outdoors Act.
This bipartisan legislation would provide full, permanent, and dedicated funding for the LWCF, while addressing the maintenance backlog on federal public lands. This would be the biggest conservation funding package in at least 50 years.
We welcome the introduction and the strong showing of support on this bipartisan bill, which now has over 58 co-sponsors, including the Senate majority and minority leaders, and the entire delegation from New Mexico. We are a significant step closer to getting LWCF permanent funding over the finish line. To stay up to date on LWCF, please follow us on social media, or reach out to us by contacting Greg Peters at Greg@cvnm.org.