Issue Brief: Land and Water Conservation Fund


ASLA supports the permanent authorization of and full dedicated funding for the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF). Permanent authorization was achieved through the passage of S. 47, the John D. Dingell, Jr. Conservation, Management, and Recreation Act, into law on March 12, 2019. ASLA has achieved full and dedicated funding through the Great American Outdoors Act, signed into law on August 4, 2020.


Since its creation in 1964, LWCF has been one of the most popular and bipartisan conservation programs that Congress has ever created. LWCF is utilized to preserve, protect, and provide access to America’s public lands, wildernesses, scenic areas, forests, and natural resources. Additionally, through its State and Local Assistance Program, LWCF is the only federal program that funds the design and construction of community parks.

LWCF is funded through the royalties paid by energy companies drilling for oil and gas on the Outer Continental Shelf. This funding mechanism is simple yet unique: use the revenues from the extraction of one natural resource to support the conservation of another. While LWCF is authorized to receive up to $900 million per year, Congress repeatedly diverts funds to other purposes. Rarely has LWCF been appropriated at even half the yearly amount allowed under law and full funding has only been met twice in over 50 years.

LWCF has broad support from a host of organizations that ASLA has joined with to form the LWCF Coalition, including the Trust for Public Land (TPL), National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA), The Wilderness Society, the Pew Charitable Trusts (PEW), and the Land Trust Alliance. This coalition was successful in permanently authorizing LWCF so it would never expire again, as it had in September 30, 2018, and is now fighting for dedicated funding for LWCF.

Bill Summary

To guarantee dedicated and full funding for LWCF, bipartisan legislation has been introduced in both the U.S. Senate (S. 1081) and House of Representatives (H.R. 3195). This legislation would ensure that LWCF receives the $900 million annually it is promised by law.

Over LWCF’s 50-plus year existence, nearly $22 billion allocated for the program has been diverted from its intended purpose. This legislation would prevent this and fund conservation efforts on the local, state, and federal levels for generations to come.

Recent Action

On August 4, 2020, LWCF achieved permanent full funding as part of the Great American Outdoors Act.

On June 19, 2019, the House Committee on Natural Resources reported H.R. 3195 out of committee 21-13.

On November 19, 2019, the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources reported S. 1081 out of committee 13-7.


Representative Jeff Van Drew (NJ) and cosponsors.

Senators Joe Manchin (WV) and Cory Gardner (CO) and cosponsors.


Roxanne Blackwell, 
Esq., Hon. ASLA,
Director of Federal
Government Affairs

Elizabeth Hebron,
Director of State
Government Affairs