Conservation Leaders Applaud Gardner-Secured Presidential Support for Full and Permanent LWCF Funding

The Land and Water Conservation Fund is critical for Colorado conservation projects

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Cory Gardner (R-CO) announced Tuesday he secured President Donald Trump’s support for legislation to provide full and permanent funding for the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) and address the $12 billion maintenance backlog in our national parks.

What conservation leaders are saying about Senator Gardner’s successful efforts to secure full and permanent funding for the LWCF:

“This common-sense legislation is long overdue to help our national parks and other public lands meet the burgeoning demand of increased numbers of hikers, anglers, campers, and wildlife watchers who have been flocking to Colorado’s outdoor spaces in recent years,” said Suzanne O’Neill, Executive Director of the Colorado Wildlife Federation. “As recent polling has shown, Westerners deeply value their public lands and want to ensure they are restored and conserved for their children and grandchildren to enjoy." 

“From Acadia to the Great Smokies to Yellowstone, America’s national parks are dealing with billions of dollars in needed repairs for crumbling roads, broken water and sewer systems, and outdated visitor centers.” said Theresa Pierno, President and CEO for National Parks Conservation Association. “For years, NPCA, communities and park advocates have fought to fix our parks and save America’s legacy. Today, thanks to the efforts of Senators Joe Manchin and Cory Gardner, their voices were heard. This bill will support conservation efforts across the country and help ensure our parks and public lands can continue to provide safe and enjoyable conditions for millions of visitors, support local communities and protect the resources that help tell our nation’s stories.”

“We’re grateful for the leadership of both Senator Bennet and Senator Gardner to ensure that our public lands receive the funding they deserve. We are delighted by the president’s announcement yesterday that he will join with conservation champions in Congress to conserve additional public lands and waters and repair crumbling recreational infrastructure that is essential to growing America’s outdoor economy,” said Collin O’Mara, President and CEO of the National Wildlife Federation. “Our American identity is deeply entwined with our national parks and the local and state recreation areas created by the Land and Water Conservation Fund. We urge Congress to pass this legislation to preserve our cherished outdoor heritage for generations to come." 

“The Land Water Conservation Fund and the Restore our Parks Act are essential to increasing access to the public lands and resources our industry depends on,” said Matt Gruhn, President of the Marine Retailers Association of the Americas (MRAA). “The over $30 billion backlog in federal conservation projects, and upwards of $11 billion backlog in maintenance and repair projects in our National Parks, significantly affect rural economies, and recreational boaters’ and anglers’ ability to take part in the activities they enjoy. We thank Senators Gardner and Manchin for supporting our industry, and ask Congress to fully fund these important programs.”

“Nearly 13 million American families and households use the nation’s trails to ride horses and will benefit from robust trail maintenance programs. The horse industry supports passage of the Restore Our Parks Act (S. 500) and Land and Water Conservation Fund Permanent Funding Act (S. 1081) to enrich the outdoor experience for the country’s recreational riders. The American Horse Council (AHC) applauds the leadership of Sens. Cory Gardner (R-CO) and Joe Manchin (D-WV) for introducing a bipartisan package that combines these two important measures that will improve access to America’s trails,” said Julie Broadway, AHC President.

“Full and dedicated funding for the Land and Water Conservation Fund would be an enormous boost for the millions of people who need access to parks and public lands, and I’m pleased to see the bipartisan leadership in Congress moving parks and conservation funding forward. Thank you, Senators Gardner and Manchin for your continued leadership and commitment to ensuring full and dedicated funding to LWCF,” said Diane Regas, President and CEO of The Trust for Public Land. “LWCF has long enjoyed bipartisan support, and it will help ensure that hikers, bikers, hunters and birders can experience the beauty of the outdoors close to where they live.”

“In the Rocky Mountain West, public lands and trails are vital to our region’s economy and our quality of life,” said Teresa Martinez, Executive Director of the Continental Divide Trail Coalition.“That’s why the certainty provided by full, permanent funding of the Land and Water Conservation Fund is so crucial. We’re pleased to see legislators who understand that leading the way once more in working to permanently fund LWCF, including Senator Gardner and his Western colleagues who are cosponsoring this bill like Senators Heinrich and Udall from New Mexico.”  

“We have a historic opportunity to enact into law a fully funded LWCF, which plays a vital role in protecting and managing federal, state and local lands while supporting local economies and recreational opportunities across the country,” said Larry Selzer, President and CEO, The Conservation Fund. “We applaud Senators Gardner, Daines, Manchin, Cantwell, Burr and all of the bipartisan leaders in the U.S. Senate and U.S. House for championing this essential program—and the companion effort to address the maintenance backlog on our public lands—for our natural treasures.”

“The Partnership for the National Trails System applauds Sens. Gardner and Manchin for their work to advance action in the US Senate to fully dedicate Land and Water Conservation Fund funding each year. This will be an e enormous boost to the protection of critical natural and cultural resources and close gaps along our 30 national scenic and historic trails. We stand ready to work on a bipartisan basis to get this over the finish line this year,” said Barney Mann, President of the Partnership for the National Trails System.

“This is an historic deal reflecting the tremendous bipartisan support for our public lands and would mark the biggest conservation victory in over 100 years. This is the chance we have been waiting for to solidify our investments in the outdoor economy and put an end to the constant raiding of LWCF. We applaud our Congressional champions and the Administration 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,” said Tom Cors, Director of Government Relations for Lands at The Nature Conservancy and a spokesman for the LWCF Coalition. 

“We are heartened to see this bill at such a pivotal time for our planet,” said Sally Jewel, Interim CEO of The Nature Conservancy. “Fully and permanently funding the Land and Water Conservation Fund and caring for America’s national parks are two sides of the same coin. LWCF protects public lands and makes them accessible, while restoring our parks makes sure those places are safe and enjoyable. Addressing these important issues together makes sense, has bipartisan support, and will go a long way toward ensuring that one of America’s greatest legacies—our public lands and waters—are kept healthy and thriving for all to enjoy. This would be an enormous conservation victory for our nation, finally fulfilling the promise of LWCF after 54 years and doing the right thing for future generations.”

"The National Park Foundation is a strong supporter of the Restore Our Parks Act, and all efforts to reduce the deferred maintenance backlog. We look forward to continuing to work with the President, Secretary Bernhardt, and Congress to get a bill across the finish line,” said Will Shafroth, National Park Foundation President and CEO.

“Sportsmen and women are thrilled to see bipartisan momentum building behind the Land and Water Conservation Fund,” said Whit Fosburgh, President and CEO of the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership. “It has a proven track record of supporting hunting, fishing, and our booming outdoor economy. We urge the full Senate to invest in the future of LWCF and the conservation of our natural resources.” 

“We are thrilled to be part of the forward momentum supporting full and dedicated funding for LWCF, and to see the bipartisan energy and excitement around this important issue” said John Judge, President and CEO, Appalachian Mountain Club. “Today’s announcement underscores the longstanding commitment from conservation champions on both sides of the aisle to ensuring that LWCF is fully and permanently funded, in order to finally realize its true promise as our nation’s premiere land protection program and driver of our multi-billion dollar outdoor recreation economy.”

“The Land and Water Conservation Fund is a critical federal program that helps landscape architects plan, design, and build world-class community parks and recreation centers. These are places where people come together to learn, grow, and share community experiences they can’t anywhere else.” said Wendy Miller, FASLA, President of the American Society of Landscape Architects. “ASLA has long supported full and permanent funding for LWCF and seeing this bill move forward – along with a measure to fix the crumbling infrastructure in our national parks – is truly a great win, not only for landscape architects but for communities across the nation.”

“Today is a huge step for outdoor recreationists, the industry and the $778 billion outdoor recreation economy,” said Jessica Wahl, Executive Director of Outdoor Recreation Roundtable.“We have supported these issues for a long time and are thrilled to see movement on them as they will help to further fuel the outdoor recreation economy across the country. We appreciate the sponsors’ dedication to these bills and will continue to work with them as our members hope support infrastructure needs for the other agencies, such as BLM, USFS, and FWS.”

“The Restore Our Parks Act offers innovative solutions and sustainable funding that will address the deferred-maintenance backlog on federal lands, which is critical to improving and expanding national campgrounds,” said Craig Kirby, RV Industry Association President. “Campgrounds on federal lands are currently showing distressing signs of wear: crumbling roads and bridges; deferred maintenance needs; and limited camping availability, jeopardizing not only the RV industry but the entire outdoor recreation industry. We are encouraged by the support of this legislation and ask Congress to pass this bill without delay.”

“Today marks a milestone achievement for the Outdoor Industry Association and outdoor enthusiasts across the country,” said Lise Aangeenbrug, Executive Director of Outdoor Industry Association. “Our shared public lands and waters are the foundation of the huge and growing outdoor recreation economy, and we are thrilled to see our elected officials coming together in a bi-partisan way to deliver on full funding for LWCF and to commit sustainable funding to address the maintenance backlogs in our national parks. Both of these efforts will go a long way in continuing to grow the outdoor economy and assisting our continued effort to get more Americans into the outdoors.” 

“Concessioners have helped park visitors enjoy great experiences for more than a century. We believe the nation should demonstrate a new and enduring commitment to connecting all Americans with their parks and other Great Outdoors places – a commitment that includes elimination of a chronic maintenance shortfall and of inadequate places and infrastructure to host the visits of our growing population. We applaud today’s action by Senate champions and the Administration on the Restore Our Parks Act and the Land and Water Conservation Fund Act. 2020 is an appropriate year for visionary action – great clarity for steps that will make park visits safer, more enjoyable and providing economic sustainability to gateway communities across the nation,” said Scott Socha, Chair of the National Park Hospitality Association. 

"America's public lands are at the root of the multibillion-dollar outdoor economy. It is critical that our country invest in addressing backlogged maintenance at our national parks, as well as our other federal lands, in order to ensure these shared spaces are accessible for Americans and visitors to enjoy," said Mary Ellen Sprenkel, President and CEO of The Corps Network. "The Land and Water Conservation Fund is a critical funding stream and passing the Restore Our Parks Act would be a significant step towards ensuring our national parks get the attention they need. In addition, however, we encourage the Senate to consider means to address deferred maintenance at such agencies as the U.S. Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The young adults enrolled in America's Service and Conservation Corps stand ready to assist resource managers in restoring our public lands." 

“With such a large, bipartisan group of elected officials coming together in support of legislation that makes a significant investment in our public lands and waters, it is abundantly clear that the outdoor recreation industry, led by boating and fishing, has earned our seat at the decision making table and we’re here to stay,” said Nicole Vasilaros, Senior Vice President of Government and Legal Affairs at the National Marine Manufacturers Association. “Without raising a dime in new taxes, this bill will repair, restore, and protect our cherished recreation resources for generations to come. There are no good reasons for Congress to delay its passage one more day.” 

“Some of the most beautiful and ecologically diverse areas are found underwater in National Parks such as Biscayne National Park in Florida and the Channel Islands National Park in California. Divers observe firsthand this amazing diversity, and want to preserve these submerged resources, including historic shipwrecks and war monuments,” said Tom Ingram, President and CEO of DEMA.“The recreational diving community and the Diving Equipment and Marketing Association (DEMA) fully support the passage of the Restore Our Parks Act. We urgently ask for your support in passing this important legislation which will ensure access to these incredible submerged resources for generations to come, while supporting local economies and building healthy communities.”

“The package of legislation introduced today that includes permanent funding for the Land and Water Conservation Fund and the Restoring Our Parks Act is necessary to continue supporting public access to our nation’s lands and waters,” said Mike Leonard, American Sportfishing Association’s Vice President of Government Affairs. “Public lands are critical for providing access to recreational fishing, which supports 800,000 jobs and has a $125 billion a year economic impact. This legislative package will help provide much needed investments to improve access to, and maintenance of, our nation’s public lands for the benefit of the nation’s 49 million anglers and all who enjoy the outdoors.”

“With this strongly bipartisan bill, Congress has an opportunity to permanently and fully fund the Land and Water Conservation Fund, a successful conservation program whose funds have been raided and diverted year after year,” said Jamie Williams, President, The Wilderness Society. “It’s time for our leaders to stand up, break the logjam in Washington, and pass this bill. People across the country who love their parks and public lands will be watching.”

“We applaud this new legislation and its sponsors’ commitment to ensuring full funding for the Land and Water Conservation Fund and for addressing long-standing deferred maintenance needs in our national parks,” said Tom Cassidy, Vice President of Government Relations and Policy, National Trust for Historic Preservation. “LWCF has enabled essential investments in iconic and diverse historic places in this country that help tell the full story of American heritage, including the Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historical Park in Atlanta, Canyons of the Ancients National Monument in Colorado, and Harpers Ferry National Historical Park in West Virginia.”


Cory Gardner is a member of the U.S. Senate serving Colorado. He sits on the Energy & Natural Resources Committee, the Foreign Relations Committee, the Commerce, Science, & Transportation Committee, and is the Chairman of the Subcommittee on East Asia, the Pacific, and International Cybersecurity Policy.