Gardner, Manchin Lead Bipartisan Bill to Permanently Fund LWCF
Land and Water Conservation Fund Permanent Funding Act makes $900 million available each year
Washington, D.C. - Today, U.S. Senators Cory Gardner (R-CO) and Joe Manchin (D-WV) led a bipartisan group of Senators in introducing the Land and Water Conservation Fund Permanent Funding Act, legislation to permanently fund the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) at a level of $900 million. Gardner and Manchin were joined by Senators Maria Cantwell (D-WA), Richard Burr (R-NC), Michael Bennet (D-CO), Lamar Alexander (R-TN), Jon Tester (D-MT), Steve Daines (R-MT), Tom Udall (D-NM), Susan Collins (R-ME), Martin Heinrich (D-NM), Lindsay Graham (R-SC), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and Angus King (I-ME).
As part of the John D. Dingell, Jr. Conservation, Management, and Recreation Act, which was enacted into law last month (Public Law 116-9), Congress permanently authorized the LWCF. However, expenditures from the LWCF continue to be subject to federal appropriations. The Land and Water Conservation Fund Permanent Funding Act would remove the requirement that the LWCF funds must be appropriated. Instead for the first time, the bill makes $900 million available each year without needing to be appropriated. In the event the amounts appropriated from the fund each year do not reach $900 million, additional funds are credited into the LWCF from federal offshore oil and gas receipts, but amounts from the fund can only be spent if appropriated.
LWCF provides funding for additions to national parks, national wildlife refuges, national forests and other federal public lands used for outdoor recreation and habitat preservation. The LWCF also funds important projects that protect drinking water resources, sensitive habitat for fish and wildlife, and private forestland. The LWCF provides matching grants to states and localities for investments in outdoor recreation facilities, such as parks and ballfields, and helps protect threatened battlefield sites.
“The Land and Water Conservation Fund is the crown jewel of conservation programs and now that we have successfully permanently authorized the program, the next step is to make the funding of the program automatic,” said Senator Gardner. “Colorado projects rely on LWCF funding and fighting year after year about how much money to provide the program does not provide the long-term planning certainty our outdoor and conservation communities deserve. This is a commonsense, bipartisan program that comes at no cost to the taxpayer, and it is time Congress fully and permanently funds this critical conservation program so future generations of Coloradans will have access to our great outdoors.”
“The Land and Water Conservation Fund is responsible for the acquisition of some of West Virginia’s most treasured lands. The Gauley River National Recreation Area, Monongahela National Forest and Canaan Valley National Wildlife Refuge were made possible because of LWCF funds. With 54 of our 55 counties having received LWCF investments at some point, the benefits of LWCF can truly be felt across the Mountain State. I’m proud to lead this bipartisan bill that will finally fund LWCF at the intended levels so we can continue to preserve, protect and invest in our public lands,” Senator Manchin said.
“Senator Gardner is one of the strongest champions we have for the Land and Water Conservation Fund and was instrumental in its permanent reauthorization,” said John Gale, conservation director, Backcountry Hunters & Anglers. “Today he doubled down on that commitment by sponsoring legislation that will dedicate full funding for LWCF. This is a tremendous gain for conservation that will enhance access and opportunity for Colorado’s hunters and anglers, create greater certainty for wildlife habitat and improve management efficiencies for our public lands and waters without burdening taxpayers.”
“The Land and Water Conservation Fund has connected millions of Americans with unrivaled outdoor experiences and conserved essential wildlife habitat across the nation for the past half century. Its permanent reauthorization was an important first step, but fully funding the Land and Water Conservation Fund is an essential next step to keep nature and wildlife within reach for future generations,” said Collin O’Mara, president and CEO of the National Wildlife Federation. “This bipartisan legislation deserves swift consideration and passage.”
“This is one of the smartest investments Congress can make,” said Whit Fosburgh, president and CEO of the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership. “The Land and Water Conservation Fund has made a lasting impact in every state in America, spurring increased access and more recreational opportunity. This legislation will send meaningful resources to ground that benefit hunters and anglers for generations to come.”
“We know that connecting with nature is linked to stronger communities and improved health, and the introduction of a bill that would fully fund the Land and Water Conservation Fund is terrific news,” said Diane Regas, President and CEO of The Trust for Public Land. “Full and dedicated funding for the Land and Water Conservation Fund would mean more access to nature for more people in every state in our country. I want to thank Senators Manchin and Gardner for their strong support of this critical program.”
“In February, Congress made a promise to the American people: our country’s best conservation program is here to stay. Permanently reauthorizing the Land and Water Conservation Fund was a major win for the preservation of public lands across the country, ensuring that we will always have a critical tool for expanding national parks, protecting watersheds and creating new outdoor recreation opportunities for communities eager to get into the outdoors,” said Kameran Onley, director of U.S. Government Relations at The Nature Conservancy. “Today’s funding bill will fulfill the rest of that promise, ensuring LWCF will always have the full and dedicated funding it needs to continue conserving our treasured natural landscapes. We urge lawmakers to work together in the same bipartisan spirit that made permanent reauthorization a reality and do the same for funding for LWCF.”
To learn more about the Land and Water Conservation Fund Permanent Funding Act click here.
To read the legislation text in in full click here.
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