Congress maintains previous year’s funding level for LWCF
Congress will leave DC with a spending bill that maintains previous-year funding levels for the nation’s premier program for outdoor recreation and conservation, but falls short of reauthorizing the program. The Land and Water Conservation Fund’s (LWCF) many bipartisan champions in the House and Senate had urged for full funding and renewal of the program.
“Many members of Washington’s congressional delegation worked hard to pass sufficient funding for the Land and Water Conservation Fund, and we’re grateful for their fervent leadership. But our work is not over—in our state alone, Congress left $10.2 million in projects unfunded and the program faces expiration next year,” said Joanna Grist, executive director of the Washington Wildlife and Recreation Coalition, which advocates for the fund. “Without continued leadership, we not only risk losing the state’s natural treasures but also the 227,000 jobs that depend on the kind of outdoor recreation projects the Fund supports.”
Maintaining last year’s level of funding provides LWCF with $306 million to support crucial conservation and recreation projects nationally. While an improvement over the House’s original $150 million proposal, the final level is barely a third of the full funding level envisioned by the program. LWCF is not funded by taxpayer dollars.
Some Washington projects will receive funding. These projects include:
- Washington Cascades-Yakima River Watershed
- South Puget Sound Coastal Forest
Projects left without funding include:
- Pysht Coastal Forest
- Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge
- Willapa National Wildlife Refuge
- Olympic National Park
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 continue to be 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.