This important fund was created by Congress in 1965 in order for natural areas, historical sites and forests to be obtained and safely maintained for our national heritage and to provide recreational opportunities throughout the country. Recently, however, the LWCF has been facing threats of cuts. The worst of these include an attempt within a recent House Appropriations Committee bill proposal to eliminate funding to this vital conservation program altogether. Thankfully, this draft did not make it past the committee, but the LWCF is not out of the woods yet.
So, why the push to limit funding for this important program? The reductions have been proposed as a way to alleviate the national debt. Tough times call for tough measures, right? There’s just one problem with that line of reasoning: The LWCF isn’t funded by taxpayer dollars. It’s financed by revenues from offshore oil and gas drilling in federal waters. Although the annual appropriation should be around $900 million from these offshore revenues, the appropriated funding has never come anywhere near that number as funds are repeatedly diverted to other areas.
Thankfully, the Senate appropriations have been much friendlier to conservation program funding. Senator Baucus (D-MT) has proposed a bill called the Land and Water Conservation Authorization and Funding Act of 2013 (S. 338) that would permanently protect this impactful program. With the role this fund plays in protecting our natural forested areas and providing safe recreational areas throughout the country and as a member of the LWCF Coalition, we hope that Congress will make more favorable decisions when they come back from recess.
But we don’t have to just sit back and hope. We can tell Congress how we feel. Write to the Senate to ask them to pass S. 338 to protect the LWCF and the forests and natural land that it safeguards. Get started with our pre-written letter.
To learn more about the LWCF, its history and what work we are doing to protect this program, please visit the LWCF Coalition website.