WASHINGTON, DC (Aug. 4, 2020)—The Open Space Institute (OSI) today heralded the permanent and full funding of the Land & Water Conservation Fund (LWCF), the nation’s most important and effective tool in advancing the long-term health of our nation’s forests, water sources, and parkland. Long sought-after funding for the LWCF was secured as President Donald Trump signed the bipartisan Great American Outdoors Act into law.
The new law follows more than half a century of hard-fought efforts to ensure funding for the protection of our nation’s most precious natural resources. For the last decade, the OSI-supported Outdoor America Campaign (OAC) led the way to achieve full and permanent funding for the LWCF.
'The Great American Outdoors Act is the most momentous and far-reaching conservation achievement of this century.' - Kim Elliman, OSI’s president and CEO
“The Great American Outdoors Act is the most momentous and far-reaching conservation achievement of this century,” said Kim Elliman, OSI’s president and CEO. “This new law is a tremendous and life-changing advancement for land and clean water protection projects. We thank the President, as well as the members of the House and Senate from both parties, who approved, voted for, and fought for the bill, making this multi-decade goal a reality.”
With approval of the Great American Outdoors Act, $900 million will be allocated each year to protect America’s natural, recreational and cultural resources, including fresh air, clean water, and scenic landscapes. The bill is also expected to create over 100,000 new jobs in related industries.
In addition to fully funding the LWCF, the Great American Outdoors Act also establishes a National Parks and Public Land Legacy Restoration Fund, which will go toward backlogged maintenance projects in the National Park Service, the U.S. Forest Service, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Bureau of Land Management, and the Bureau of Indian Education.
Since 2009, OSI has operated the Outdoors America Campaign to bring greater capacity, cohesion, and a broader lens to build support for consistent, dedicated federal funding for the LWCF. The OAC educates decision-makers and the public about the benefits of preserving open space and the vital role of federal funding in land acquisition.
Funded through revenues from offshore oil and gas royalty payments, LWCF is America’s most important conservation program, responsible for protecting parks, wildlife refuges and recreation areas at the federal, state and local levels. For over 55 years, it has provided critical funding for land and water conservation projects, recreational construction and activities and the continued historic preservation our nation’s iconic landmarks from coast-to-coast.
Outdoor recreation, conservation and historic preservation activities contribute $887 billion annually to the U.S. economy, supporting 7.6 million jobs.