Building on Success of Permanent Reauthorization, Cantwell Introduces Bipartisan Legislation to Make LWCF Funding Mandatory

Bill would guarantee $900 million in funding for LWCF each year - comes after Cantwell’s legislation to permanently extend the fund was signed into law in March

WASHINGTON, D.C.  Today, U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA), the former Ranking Member of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, joined U.S Senators Joe Manchin (D-WV), Cory Gardner (R-CO), Richard Burr (R-NC), and others in introducing legislation to make funding mandatory for the Land and Water Conservation Fund – the nation’s most important conservation program. The Land and Water Conservation Fund Permanent Funding Act would ensure that this critical program receives the full $900 million authorized each year under Cantwell’s bipartisan John D. Dingell, Jr. Conservation, Management, and Recreation Act.

“The Land and Water Conservation Fund is the preeminent tool to increase access to our nation’s beloved public lands. Now we need to build on our recent success to permanently extend the program by making sure the funding is mandatory and the program gets fully funded every year,” said Senator Cantwell. “The LWCF gives local communities the tools and resources needed to manage public lands, to provide more access to our lands and waters, and to do the things that will help us grow jobs and persevere against a very challenging and threatening climate.”

Although the Land and Water Conservation Fund was permanently reauthorized last month, LWCF expenditures continue to be subject to annual federal appropriations. This has resulted in a shortfall of over $22 billion over the past few decades – funding that could have been used to create or expand public land to support hunting, fishing, and hiking opportunities treasured by countless Americans. The Land and Water Conservation Fund Permanent Funding Act would remove the requirement that LWCF funds be subject to the whims of the annual appropriations process and, for the first time, require the program receive $900 million every year. LWCF does not use any taxpayer dollars – it is funded using a small portion of revenues from offshore oil and gas royalty payments.

Since its creation, LWCF has supported more than 42,000 state and local projects in communities across the country and more than 600 projects in Washington state, including popular recreation sites such as Olympic National Park, Lake Chelan, and Riverside State Park. Thousands of Washingtonians have benefited from access to trails and outdoor recreation opportunities, as well as clean air and water preservation, which would not have been possible without the conservation funding provided by LWCF.

In addition to Cantwell, Manchin, Gardner, and Burr, the legislation was co-sponsored by U.S. Senators Michael Bennet (D-CO), Lamar Alexander (R-TN), Jon Tester (D-MT), Steve Daines (R-MT), Tom Udall (D-NM), Susan Collins (R-ME), Martin Heinrich (D-NM), Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), and Angus King (I-ME).