WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell today announced nearly $95 million will be distributed from the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) to all 50 states, U.S. territories, and the District of Columbia to support conservation and recreation projects in local communities.
The funds, which are generated out of a portion of the lease revenue from offshore oil and gas development, support state-identified and community-supported projects that create jobs, contribute to local economies and grow outdoor recreational opportunities in virtually every county across the country.
Jewell made the funding announcement ahead of a major address on conservation at the National Geographic Society where she plans to outline the need for a course correction in order to ensure healthy lands, water and wildlife for the next century of American conservation.
“This highly successful national program has set aside local green spaces, built neighborhood baseball fields and boat docks, preserved some of our most hallowed grounds, and provided funding to construct and maintain trails and access points for many of our public lands and waters,” Jewell said. “While Congress temporarily reauthorized the successful 50-year program, President Obama and his Administration have asked for full, dedicated funding and permanent reauthorization of the Land and Water Conservation Fund, investing a small portion of revenue from oil and gas extraction back into our lands and waters for the benefit and enjoyment of all Americans, now and for future generations.”
A state-by-state list of the fiscal year 2016 stateside funding allocation is available here.
“Since 1965, the Land and Water Conservation Fund has, through the National Park Service, provided states, territories, and the District of Columbia with more than $4 billion–leveraging more than $8 billion in matching local public and private investment – to fund more than 43,000 projects to create close-to-home parks and expand outdoor recreation facilities and opportunities for public enjoyment,”
National Park Service Director Jonathan B. Jarvis said. “It’s been our distinct honor to facilitate the LWCF program and we continue that tradition with today’s funding.”
The LWCF was established by Congress in 1965 to ensure access to outdoor recreation resources for present and future generations, and to provide money to federal agencies and state and local governments to purchase land, water, and wetlands for the benefit of all Americans.
Funds are awarded through federal matching grants that leverage public and private investment and enable state and local governments to create, develop, or enhance everything from urban parks to state wildlife management areas to soccer fields. The funds also provide the public with access to rivers, lakes, and other water resources, and permanently conserve these areas for outdoor recreational use and enjoyment. A recent analysis of the Land and Water Conservation Fund found that every $1 invested in land acquisition generated a $4 return on investment for communities.
Only once in the past 50 years has Congress appropriated LWCF funding at the fully authorized level of $900 million. President Obama’s 2017 budget request includes a legislative proposal to establish mandatory funding for LWCF programs, with full funding at $900 million.
On September 30, 2015, the date Congress allowed the Fund to expire temporarily for several months, Jewell urged Congress to reauthorize the LWCF and to pass President Obama’s proposal to guarantee permanent full funding of $900 million a year that Congress authorized under the original law.
Congress provided a short-term renewal of three years for LWCF in the fiscal year 2016 Omnibus Appropriations Act. Chronic uncertainty and underfunding have made it increasingly challenging for local, state and federal partners to use this important conservation tool. The allocation for the State and Local Assistance Grant (State-side) program is determined based on a formula set in the LWCF Act and the Gulf of Mexico Energy Security Act.