WASHINGTON, D.C. – Ranking Member of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), Senate and House Colleagues, and stakeholders met today to sound the alarm about the looming expiration of America’s most important and successful conservation and recreation program, the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF).
“The LWCF is the key tool that we use to help communities, to help the state, to help our nation preserve those recreation opportunities and to make the most cost effective use of the land.” Senator Cantwell said during the event. “In the foothills of the Cascades, in the shadows of Mt. Rainier, it has helped us continued to preserve great resources and great assets.”
In Washington State alone, the outdoor recreation economy contributes over $26 billion in consumer spending and supports over 201,000 direct jobs. The Land and Water Conservation Fund is a key component of our nation’s robust outdoor recreation economy — an economy that generates over $887 billion in annual consumer spending and supports 7.6 million American jobs.
“Now we are faced with a deadline in just 100 days of this key tool that allows us to keep public open space so we can continue to recreate and hunt and fish and hike,” said Senator Cantwell. “I hope we can do everything to work together in this bipartisan fashion to get this reauthorized."
In March 2017, Senator Cantwell and Richard Burr (R-N.C.) and 20 other senators introduced bipartisan legislation to permanently authorize and fully fund the Land and Water Conservation Fund. In addition, one of the key accomplishments of the Energy and Natural Resources Act of 2017 (ENRA) introduced in June 2017 by Senator Cantwell is the permanent authorization of LWCF.
About the Land and Water Conservation Fund:
The Land and Water Conservation Fund is America’s most important conservation program, responsible for protecting parks, trails, wildlife refuges and recreation areas at the federal, state and local level. For over 50 years, it has successfully provided critical funding for land and water conservation projects, access to recreation including hunting and fishing, and the continued historic preservation of our nation’s iconic landmarks from coast-to-coast.
In Washington State, popular recreation sites such as Olympic National Park, Lake Chelan and Riverside State Park have been preserved through the LWCF. Washingtonians have benefitted from access to trails and outdoor recreation opportunities, as well as clean air and water preservation, which would not have been possible without this fund.
The LWCF also funds important projects that protect drinking water resources, sensitive habitat for fish and wildlife, and private forestland. The state component of the program provides matching grants to states and localities for investments in outdoor recreation facilities, such as parks and playfields.
LWCF does not use any taxpayer dollars – it is funded using a small portion of revenues from offshore oil and gas royalty payments.