WASHINGTON -- The president signed the public lands package today that permanently reauthorizes the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF), a historically bipartisan program that has funded projects in all 50 states since its inception in 1965. The program, which expired last September, has supported everything from the expansion and maintenance of local parks and recreation centers to national forests, national parks and historical sites.
“This victory is a testament to the perseverance of many in Congress who wouldn’t let America’s most successful conservation and recreation program die,” said Ed Johnson, president of Environment America. “You don’t see votes like 92-8 in the Senate and 363-62 in the House without members putting their shoulder to the wheel.”
The bill permanently renews the Land and Water Conservation Fund, but does not fully fund it at the $900 million a year authorized in the original LWCF bill. Instead, it leaves funding to the annual appropriations process.
“No other government program benefits taxpayers as much and costs them as little as LWCF does. Over the last 50 years, every state in the country has been helped by LWCF in some way, and, without it, we’d have far fewer parks, forests, historic sites and hiking trails,” said North Carolina Sen. Richard Burr, one of the tireless champions for the program in Congress.
Erik DuMont, public lands campaign director for Environment America, added: “Permanently reauthorizing the program has been a long time coming, and took a strong group effort from members on both sides of the aisle. Now we need to see it fully funded. We must take up that fight, because without that second step, it becomes difficult to maintain America the beautiful."
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Environment America is the national federation of statewide, citizen-based advocacy organizations working for a cleaner, greener, healthier future.
For a list of projects funded by LWCF, go to https://www.lwcfcoalition.com/.