Policy Pulse: Outdoor Recreation at Risk

The Izaak Walton League has a special relationship with the Land and Water Conservation Fund – a nationwide program providing for “the acquisition of the land base for outdoor recreation and the preservation of our natural heritage” (as our conservation policy book aptly describes it). Not only does the Fund embody the dual purposes of the League – conservation and outdoor recreation – the League helped come up with the idea and pushed for Congress to pass it in the 1960s. League members have been supporting and benefiting from the law ever since – through local parks, state recreation and hunting areas, and national parks and wildlife refuges paid for through this Fund. The Land and Water Conservation Fund does not rely on taxes to provide these benefits – it is funded through a small fraction of the revenues received from offshore oil and gas drilling royalties.

Unfortunately, the law had a shelf life: September 30, 2015. Rather than reauthorize the Fund for a certain number of years or permanently, Congress let it fall into limbo. There has been some small progress. A bipartisan breakthrough agreement in the Senate gives hope for reauthorizing the Fund – without accepting other proposals put forth that would weaken it. Senate Energy and Natural Resources Chairman Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) and Ranking Member Maria Cantwell (D-WA) reached an agreement to reauthorize the Land and Water Conservation Fund permanently and to continue to fund it with a fraction of the revenues derived from offshore oil and gas development. Earlier this year, 59 senators voted in support of permanently reauthorizing LWCF.

However, the fate of this historic and popular law is far from settled. It has less support and more opposition in the U.S. House of Representatives. We need your help to ensure a future for outdoor recreation across the country. Visit our advocacy Web page to tell your members of Congress to fund this important program. You can also read more about the Land and Water Conservation Fund in a comprehensive article by Destry Jarvis.