NEW YORK, NY (March 20, 2017) - Leading the fight to protect and secure Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF), the Open Space Institute’s Outdoors America Campaign is pulling out all the stops ensure that land conservation remains strong amidst current efforts to reduce federal commitment.
The idea was as straightforward in 1964 when President Johnson established the LWCF, as it is today: create a dedicated funding stream to protect America’s irreplaceable recreational, natural, historic, cultural and outdoor landmarks using proceeds generated by offshore oil and gas drilling leases.
“At its core, the LWCF is about smart, effective, high-impact, permanent land conservation – a pursuit that is critically important to clean water, recreation, wildlife protection and preserving the cultural identities of communities throughout our nation,” said OSI’s president and CEO Kim Elliman.
"National parks and reserves are an integral aspect of intelligent use of natural resources. It is the course of wisdom to set aside an ample portion of our natural resources as national parks and reserves, thus ensuring that future generations may know the majesty of the earth as we know it today.”
- John F. Kennedy, President of the United States
And yet, despite its effectiveness and the fact that it relies on no taxpayer dollars for support, the LWCF has only been fully funded at or above the $900 million level twice, in 1998 and 2001. During the Obama Administration, OSI urged full funding, and the President's budget reflected this. But now, under the new administration, new challenges are arising.
The breadth of LWCF’s scope is one of the program’s great success. Over the decades, this one fund has made significant impacts on landscapes across the nation – and in fact, in every congressional district – creating national, state and local parks; protecting wilderness areas; supporting conservation-based timber practices; promoting a range of recreational activities, including fishing, camping, hiking, and biking.
“There is so much riding on a fully-funded LWCF. From the water we drink, and the outdoor traditions handed down from one generation to the next; to the places, we bring our families to enjoy our nation’s natural beauty and recreational activities,” explained Elliman.
Although the federal budget process has a long way to go, OSI’s efforts will not falter to ensure that the LWCF continues to provide critical funding for conservation in America.