WASHINGTON – In an overwhelming show of bipartisan support for America’s most important conservation and recreation program, the House of Representatives voted today to permanently reauthorize the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) by a vote of 363 to 62. After passage through the Senate earlier this month, the Natural Resources Management Act (S. 47) will now be sent to the President’s desk. This is the culmination of a years-long effort by Congressional champions on both sides of the aisle, and by stakeholders across the country, to preserve the unique character of this program created as a conservation offset for energy development.
Jonathan Asher, Government Relations Manager at The Wilderness Society and a spokesman for the LWCF Coalition, commented on today’s passage of S. 47, a public lands package including legislation to permanently reauthorize LWCF through the House:
“This is an historic victory for America’s natural and cultural treasures, for water and wildlife, for hunters and anglers, for national, state, and city parks advocates, for our nation’s powerhouse recreation economy, and for the millions of people in every state in the country who rely on LWCF for access to our public lands. We applaud our champions in the House and Senate for demonstrating that bipartisan cooperation can achieve great things, and for finding common ground in the fight to ensure that future generations will continue to have access to close-to-home recreation.
“As we celebrate this important milestone, we celebrate the program’s original intent: that proceeds from public resource extraction will be dedicated to the protection of our greatest natural parks and outdoor places. Today’s passage of S. 47 doesn’t just mean that LWCF can go on protecting land, water and recreation infrastructure—it reaffirms the gold standard in American conservation, that a small percentage of royalties from offshore energy development should be reinvested in the long-term interest of the nation and the public, to maintain our quality of life, our outdoor traditions, our cultural heritage and a healthy future for our children. The language passed in S. 47 retains the critical balance between priority projects in our federal public lands and state and local grants that benefit urban parks, working forests, historic battlefields and so much more; it further maintains the flexibility to adjust to changing needs that makes this program a success.
“For too long, LWCF funds have been raided for non-conservation government spending. Today’s vote is a major win for conservation. LWCF’s funding continues to be low and erratic, creating uncertainty for landowners, stakeholders and community partners that rely on LWCF for multi-phase, highly leveraged projects. Our fight will not be over until LWCF gets permanent, full and dedicated funding.
“The outdoor recreation industry, governors, mayors, sportsmen, small business owners, conservation leaders, landowners, ranchers, and millions of Americans applaud the permanent reauthorization of LWCF and will continue to fight for the protection of our shared outdoor heritage.”
About the Land and Water Conservation Fund
The Land and Water Conservation Fund Act, signed into law on September 3, 1964, established a dedicated means for the conservation and protection of America’s irreplaceable natural, historic, cultural and outdoor landmarks. LWCF is the only federal program dedicated to the continued conservation of our national parks, forests, wildlife refuges, wilderness, civil war battlefields, as well as creating and developing state and local parks. It is rightly characterized as America’s most important conservation program.
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 $887 billion annually to the U.S. economy, supporting 7.6 million jobs.
About the LWCF Coalition
The LWCF Coalition is the umbrella group of more than 1,000 state and local land owners, small businesses, ranchers, sportsmen, veterans, outdoor recreationists and conservation organizations working to protect America’s public lands and safeguard our shared outdoor heritage for future generations.
The Coalition is united in its advocacy for the 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, as well as state and local parks. For more information on LWCF and the places in each state protected by LWCF funds, visit www.lwcfcoalition.com.