Cantwell, Colleagues Introduce Bipartisan Legislation to Guarantee Full LWCF Funding

Bipartisan legislation also provides nearly $10 billion for deferred maintenance at National Parks, on Forest Service lands

WASHINGTON, D.C. – This week, U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA) and a bipartisan group of senators introduced breakthrough legislation to ensure full and permanent funding for the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) and provide billions in funding for deferred maintenance projects at National Parks and on public lands nationwide.

Cantwell, a leading congressional champion of the LWCF, introduced bipartisan legislation that permanently reauthorized the fund last year and has led the fight for full mandatory funding for the conservation program.

“The Land and Water Conservation Fund helps Washingtonians throughout our state enjoy amazing public lands and urban green spaces,” Senator Cantwell said. “This bill will help support what is one of our greatest icons – our outdoors – and also generate billions of dollars in revenue for state and local governments and create economic opportunity for our workforce.”

The Great American Outdoors Act makes LWCF funding mandatory to ensure the fund receives the full $900 million Congress has historically authorized for the program every year, ending its reliance on the discretionary funding process, which has shortchanged the program by over $22 billion since its creation in 1965. The legislation also allocates $9.5 billion to address the decades-old maintenance backlog on our public lands. The National Parks Service will receive $6.5 billion over five years, and the Forest Service will receive $1.425 billion. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Bureau of Land Management, and Bureau of Indian Education will each receive $475 million to tackle deferred maintenance projects.

The Land and Water Conservation Fund is the United States’ most successful conservation program. 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 that would not have been possible without the conservation funding provided by the LWCF.

The fund also helps support Washington state’s robust outdoor recreation economy, which is responsible for 201,000 direct jobs in the state, $26.2 billion in annual consumer spending, and $7.6 billion in wages and salaries.

In addition to Cantwell, U.S. Senators Cory Gardner (R-CO), Steve Daines (R-MT), Joe Manchin (D-WV), Rob Portman (R-OH), Mark Warner (D-VA), Angus King (I-ME), Lamar Alexander (R-TN), Ron Wyden (D-OR), Richard Burr (R-NC), and dozens of other senators introduced the legislation.

Video of Senator Cantwell speaking at a press conference last week to announce the deal is available HERE, and audio is HERE.