Congress Eliminates Popular Conservation Fund

October 1, 2015

[Seattle, WA] Wednesday night marked the expiration of the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF), the first time since its creation fifty years ago that Congress has allowed the popular conservation and recreational fund to expire. The Washington Wildlife and Recreation Coalition, a group of 280 corporate and non-profit partners, called for immediate action to restore the nation’s most effective outdoor recreation and conservation grant program.

“Expiration of LWCF is outrageous,” said Vlad Gutman, senior policy director of the Washington Wildlife and Recreation Coalition. “It is a profound disappointment that a small, radical minority in Congress eliminated a bipartisan program supported by more than 85% of the American people. We need Congress to quickly correct this and permanently reauthorize LWCF to preserve our economy, quality of life, and outdoor heritage.”

Congress’s failure ended funding for a program that has protected and provided public access for some of Washington’s most treasured places. Since being created by Washington Senator Henry “Scoop” Jackson in 1964, LWCF has invested over half a billion dollars for state and federal land conservation projects in Washington state alone, providing grants to hundreds of state and local parks, trails, fishing access sites, and recreational facilities, and supporting working forests. Iconic places in Washington protected by the fund include:

  • Mt. Rainier National Park
  • Colville National Forest
  • The Pacific Crest Trail
  • Deception Pass State Park

LWCF forms the foundation of Washington’s outdoor recreation economy which supports nearly 200,000 jobs, according to research commissioned by the state’s Recreation and Conservation Office.

Washington Senators Cantwell and Murray and Representatives from both sides of the aisle have issued statements calling on their colleagues to reauthorize LWCF in the months leading up to the September 30 expiration.

In July, a bipartisan energy bill released by Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA) and Senator Murkowski (R-AK) included permanent reauthorization of the fund. The compromise bill secured funding for both federal investments in national parks and forests as well as support for state-initiated projects that fund local parks, working forest and valuable habitat and outdoor recreation lands.


What is LWCF?

Created by Congress in 1965, the Land and Water Conservation Fund is the nation’s premier federal grant program for conservation and outdoor recreation. The program uses no taxpayer dollars. Instead, $900 million in offshore oil and gas lease revenue is meant to be invested in parks and outdoor recreation opportunities each year. However, a majority of LWCF funds have been diverted for unrelated purposes.

About the Coalition

The Washington Wildlife and Recreation Coalition is a non-profit citizens group founded in a historic bipartisan effort by former Governors Dan Evans and Mike Lowry. The Coalition promotes public funding for Washington’s outdoors through the state Washington Wildlife and Recreation Program and the federal Land and Water Conservation Fund. Members consist of a diverse group of over 280 organizations representing conservation, business, recreation, hunting, fishing, farming and community interests. The breadth and diversity of the Coalition is the key to its success — no one member could secure such a high level of funding for parks and habitat on its own.