Report: Conservation program has strengthened Washington’s economy for 5 decades

September 3, 2014

Land and Water Conservation Fund started in Washington State, needs reauthorization from Congress

Download the report. (PDF)

SEATTLE–In recognition of the 50th anniversary of the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF), a coalition of more than 280 businesses, nonprofits and community organizations released a report today on the enormous benefit the fund has provided for Washington’s great outdoors.

The report from the Washington Wildlife and Recreation Coalition details how LWCF has created close-to-home parks and trails, increased hunting and fishing access, and protected state icons like Mount Rainier since it was signed into law on September 3, 1964. Original legislation to create the fund was introduced by Washington’s own Senator, the late Henry “Scoop” Jackson.

In Washington State, LWCF has invested close to $600 million in over 600 projects. This has been achieved all without taxpayer dollars.

The program is based on a simple idea: that a small portion of offshore oil and gas lease royalties paid to the federal  government for offshore energy development, resources owned by all Americans, should be invested back into outdoor areas for all to enjoy.

LWCF is supposed to receive $900 million in royalties each year, but yearly funding approved by Congress has dropped even as both revenues from offshore development and the cost of conservation have increased. Congress has consistently diverted a majority of LWCF funds to unrelated spending, creating a backlog of unmet community needs.

“Washingtonians just have to look outside to see LWCF’s success, but as our population grows, so is demand for access to the outdoors. LWCF could provide that, whether that’s in the wilderness or at a playground down the street,” said Joanna Grist, executive director of the Washington Wildlife and Recreation Coalition. “This report shows how much we owe to this program and how much we need LWCF to continue. We are grateful to have Congressional leaders taking action to ensure the fund’s future.”

Without Congressional action, LWCF will expire in 2015. Senators Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell have cosponsored a bill to renew the program with full, dedicated funding. A majority of Washington’s House Members on both sides of the aisle also support reauthorization and increased funding.