The Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) is due to expire at the end of September. If Congress does not renew it before then, crucial funding for public land conservation and outdoor recreation access could be eliminated.
LWCF uses royalties collected from offshore oil and gas development to fund public land acquisition, improve access to land and water for outdoor recreation, and establish community green spaces. When it was passed in 1965 with strong support from the Izaak Walton League, the LWCF Act represented an acknowledgement that with the development of the nation’s natural resources comes a responsibility to conserve and enhance access to the resources that remain.
LWCF must be periodically renewed by Congress, and Congress has until the end of September to take this step. Unfortunately, despite the popularity of LWCF, a bill to renew the program has not yet been considered.
Representative Raùl Grijalva of Arizona authored a bill (H.R. 502) that would eliminate the need for periodic extensions and make LWCF a permanent conservation funding source. This bill would also provide dedicated funding to improve access to hard-to-reach public lands for hunters, anglers, campers, and hikers. H.R. 502 has 219 co-sponsors, enough to pass if given a vote on the House floor, but inaction from the House Natural Resources Committee is preventing the bill from receiving a vote.
The League supports H.R. 502, and our members adopted policy several years ago that supports making LWCF permanent. LWCF’s track record of success in providing Americans with quality outdoor experiences speaks for itself. The Fund has been used to complete conservation and outdoor recreation access projects in all 50 states and has benefitted every American, from urban park visitors to wilderness hunters.