supports protecting and maintaining funding for the Land and Water
Conservation Fund (LWCF). The LWCF program provides matching grants to
states and local governments for the acquisition and development of
public outdoor recreation areas and facilities. The program is intended
to create and maintain a nationwide legacy of high quality recreation
areas and facilities and to stimulate non-federal investments in the
protection and maintenance of recreation resources across the United
States. Landscape architects are often on the LWCF front lines,
designing and planning projects that protect our natural resources, our
cultural and historic resources, and stimulate local economies in
communities across the country.
Background & Analysis
Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) was established by Congress in
1964. The Act designated that a portion of receipts from offshore oil
and gas leases be placed into a fund annually for state and local
conservation, as well as for the protection of our national treasures,
including parks, forest and wildlife areas. LWCF has a broad-based
coalition of support, including the Trust for Public Land, National
Parks and Recreation Association, The Wilderness Society, and the Land
LWCF is authorized at $900 million annually, a
level that has been met only twice ($306 million in FY15) during the
program's 50-year history. The program is divided into two distinct
funding pots: state grants and federal acquisition funds.
"stateside" of LWCF is distributed to all 50 states, DC and the
territories by a formula based on population among other factors. State
grant funds can be used for park development and for acquisition of
lands and easements. State park directors solicit communities to apply
for projects and distribute funds to those worthy projects based on a
scoring process. Click HERE for a list of the most recent state-by-state apportionments.
the federal side, LWCF provides for national park, forest and wildlife
refuge and Bureau of Land Management area fee and easement acquisitions.
Each year, based on project demands from communities as well as input
from the federal land management agencies (NPS, USFS, FWS, BLM), the
President makes recommendations to Congress regarding funding for
specific LWCF projects. During congressional consideration, these
projects go through a rigorous Appropriations Committee review process
with much input from legislators representing project areas. Given the
intense competition among projects, funding is generally only provided
for those projects with universal support.
significantly contribute to our national economy. The Outdoor Industry
Association estimates that hunting, fishing, camping, climbing, hiking,
paddling, back country skiing, mountain biking, wildlife viewing, and
other activities contribute a total of $646 billion annually to the
economy, supporting 6.1 million jobs (1 of every 20 jobs in the U.S.)
On December 15, 2015, the U.S. House of Representatives and the Senate agreed to an omnibus budget deal (H.R. 2029, the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2016) that provides funding for all government operations and programs through fiscal year (FY) 2016. The measure also reauthorizes the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) for three years through September 2018 and provides $450 million in funding for 2016, an increase of about $144 million over 2015 spending levels. Under the deal, funding for state and local projects was also increased to $213.1 million, with $110 million going directly to the State and Local Assistance Program (stateside), $10 million to the American Battlefield Protection Program, about $30 million to Cooperative Endangered Species Conservation Fund, and $62 million to the Forest Legacy Program. President Obama signed the omnibus spending bill into law on December 18, 2015.
Leading up to the deal on LWCF, several bills were introduced in the 114th Congress to permanently reauthorize LWCF. Senators Richard Burr (NC) and Michael Bennet (CO) introduced S. 338, which would permanently reauthorize the Land and Water Conservation Fund. Congressmen Raul Grijalva (AZ) and Mike Fitzpatrick (PA) introduced companion legislation in the House, H.R. 1814, which would also permanently reauthorize the Land and Water Conservation Fund. A bi-partisan group of Representatives and Senators co-sponsored the measures.
Senators Maria Cantwell (WA) and Ron Wyden (OR) introduced S. 890 - Land and Water Conservation Authorization and Funding Act of 2015, which would permanently reauthorize LWCF and fully fund it at $900 million. Several senators are co-sponsors of the bill.