Cantwell, Bipartisan Coalition Pledge To Save America’s Most Important Conservation Program

LWCF Worked Successfully For 25 Years; It Is Now Time To Make It Permanent

WASHINGTON, D.C. –Ranking Member of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee Maria Cantwell (D-WA), Senate and House Colleagues, and stakeholders met today to sound the alarm about the looming expiration of America’s most important and successful conservation and recreation program, the Land and Water Conservation Fund.  

“We love the land, and we love what it does for America. It may actually be the antidote to the information age that we live in, where we are so frenetic every day. The treasures that we have, to be able to go and find refuge in the outdoors, whether you are a hunter, fisherman, recreationist, or just communing with friends, it is one of the greatest treasures of our country,”
said Sen. Cantwell. “Today I would say that it [LWCF] has become one of the most successful programs for preserving open space that we have in our nation. That is why we cannot allow it to continue to flounder in uncertainty for its future.” 

Sen. Cantwell has long supported LWCF. One of the key accomplishments of the Energy and Natural Resources Act of 2017 (ENRA) introduced in June by Sen. Cantwell is the permanent authorization of LWCF. In May 2017, a bipartisan coalition of Senators, led by Maria Cantwell, wrote a letter urging the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies to support the LWCF. Senators Cantwell, Richard Burr (R-N.C.) and 20 other senators introduced bipartisan legislation to permanently authorize and fully fund the Land and Wate r Conservation Fund (LWCF) in March 2017.

Sen. Cantwell has also noted the economic benefits of the LWCF, which have increased significantly since her September 2016 statement. “The Land and Water Conservation Fund is the country’s most successful conservation law, supporting an outdoor economy of more than $600 billion annually and 6 million American jobs,” said Sen. Cantwell. “The LWCF is essential to preserving America’s public outdoor spaces, which improve our quality of life and provide important recreational and cultural opportunities.”

About the Land and Water Conservation Fund 
The Land and Water Conservation Fund is America’s most important conservation program, responsible for protecting parks, trails, wildlife refuges and recreation areas at the federal, state and local level.  For over 50 years, it has successfully provided critical funding for land and water conservation projects, access to recreation including hunting and fishing, and the continued historic preservation of our nation’s iconic landmarks from coast-to-coast.    

The LWCF also funds important projects that protect drinking water resources, sensitive habitat for fish and wildlife, and private forestland. The state component of the program provides matching grants to states and localities for investments in outdoor recreation facilities, such as parks and playfields.

LWCF does not use any taxpayer dollars – it is funded using a small portion of revenues from offshore oil and gas royalty payments.  Outdoor recreation, conservation and historic preservation activities contribute more than a trillion dollars annually to the U.S. economy, supporting 9.4 million jobs.  

In Washington State, popular recreation sites such as Olympic National Park, Lake Chelan and Riverside State Park have been preserved through the LWCF. Washingtonians have benefitted from access to trails and outdoor recreation opportunities, as well as clean air and water preservation, which would not have been possible without this fund.

About the LWCF Coalition
The LWCF Coalition is comprised of more than 1,000 state and regional conservation and recreation organizations of all sizes, land owners, small businesses, ranchers, sportsmen, veterans, the outdoor recreation industry and conservationists working together to protect America’s public lands and safeguard our shared outdoor heritage for future generations.

The Coalition is united in its advocacy for the permanent reauthorization and full funding of the Land and Water Conservation Fund, which will ensure the continued conservation of our national parks, forests, wildlife refuges, wilderness, civil war battlefields, working lands and state and local parks.