01.31.19

Bipartisan Group of Senators Renews Push to Save LWCF

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Senators Richard Burr (R-NC) and Michael Bennet (D-CO), reintroduced legislation to permanently reauthorize the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF), joined by a bipartisan coalition of members calling for the program’s renewal with increased urgency since its lapse in September 2018.

“The Land and Water Conservation Fund may cost taxpayers nothing, but Congress’ failure to renew it would cost us all dearly,” said Senator Richard Burr (R-NC). “Without this program, every state in the country would lose out on valuable outdoor recreation projects, beautiful natural landscapes, and easy access to state and national parks. It’s been four months since LWCF was allowed to expire despite its proven track record of success and overwhelming bipartisan support. It is long past time for Congress do the right thing by renewing America’s most successful conservation program.”

“For over 50 years, the Land and Water Conservation Fund has helped protect Colorado’s iconic landscapes, expand outdoor recreation activities, and boost our local economy,” said Senator Michael Bennet (D-CO). “Failing to reauthorize the LWCF is an affront to future generations who rely on this conservation program to access public lands. We must permanently reauthorize and fully fund the program immediately."

“I’ve been a strong supporter of the Land and Water Conservation Fund since day one, and I’m glad to once again introduce this legislation with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle,” said Senator Cory Gardner (R-CO). “LWCF is the crown jewel of conservation programs and protects Colorado’s beautiful public lands for future generations. I’m looking forward to the upcoming vote to permanently reauthorize this program.”

“For the last half-century, the Land and Water Conservation Fund has helped Americans from all walks of life access the natural beauty of our country,” said Senator Angus King (I-ME). “From supporting outdoor recreation programs to preserving public lands, the LWCF transcends partisanship, and it should transcend politics – but far too often, the reauthorization of this vital program is subject to the whims of unrelated debates. It’s time to make a permanent commitment to the American people: that the LWCF will be here for years to come, working to connect our citizens with America’s public lands.”

“LWCF is a critical conservation tool in Montana used to secure better access to our public lands,” said Senator Steve Daines (R-MT). “Permanent reauthorization would ensure this program would exist for generations to come. I won’t stop fighting until we get this done.”

“LWCF is our country’s most important and successful conservation and outdoor recreation program,” said Senator Susan Collins (R-ME).  “LWCF has created outdoor recreation opportunities in every county across the country.  Permanent reauthorization of LWCF will strengthen local conservation and recreation efforts in Maine, helping to ensure both current and future generations can enjoy the beauty of its natural resources.”

"The Land and Water Conservation Fund is a critical tool that expands public access for folks who hunt, hike and fish on our public lands - at no cost to taxpayers," said Senator Jon Tester (D-MT). "It is time to permanently reauthorize this successful initiative to ensure future generations can continue our Montana outdoor way of life."

“I am proud to support the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) as an important tool in protecting South Carolina’s natural resources,” said Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC). “Through LWCF and its partners, South Carolina’s resources will be preserved so future generations can enjoy our great outdoors.”

“The Land and Water Conservation Fund plays an important role in strengthening the Granite State’s outdoor recreation economy by preserving our most beautiful and popular tourist sites, including the White Mountain National Forest,” said Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH). “Permanently reauthorizing this critical program will provide our national and state agencies with the certainty they need to help protect our wildlife, environment and natural resources for generations to come. There is broad bipartisan support in Congress to invest in measures that ensure continued outdoor access for all Americans, and this bill will help us meet that goal.”

“West Virginia is full of incredible natural beauty, which is why it’s so important that we maintain and preserve natural resources and destinations across the Mountain State,” said Senator Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV). “One way we are able to achieve that is through the Land and Water Conservation Fund. The conservation program has been instrumental in protecting our public lands and maintaining access to outdoor recreation in rural and urban areas in West Virginia and across the country. As a strong and long-time supporter of this program, I was proud to join my colleagues to introduce this legislation to permanently reauthorize LWCF. By doing so, we can provide permanent support to help preserve our public lands so West Virginians and visitors from all over can enjoy them for generations to come.”

“LWCF preserves some of Iowa’s most special places, while also growing our local economies and encouraging outdoor recreation,” said Senator Joni Ernst (R-IA). “I am committed to permanently reauthorizing LWCF this Congress, so it can support conservation efforts in Iowa and beyond for generations to come.”

A copy of the legislation, S.302, introduced today can be found here.

Background:

  • LWCF was last extended in 2015 for only three years after the program’s authorization lapsed, and amidst public outcry, bringing us to the most recent expiration on September 30, 2018. 
  • LWCF requires zero taxpayer dollars, instead utilizing royalties earned from offshore oil and gas revenues. Through several grant programs, the fund helps clean up wildlife areas, procure easements to improve access for Americans, takes care of historic parks and battlefields, and much more. Since its inception in 1964, LWCF has preserved and maintained recreational areas in all 50 states and nearly every congressional district.
  • The outdoor economy generates roughly $900 billion in annual economic activity and supports 7.6 million jobs, all of which is benefitted by LWCF.

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