Land & Water Conservation Fund is Back!

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Dec 16, 2015 – The House of Representatives unveiled an Omnibus budget package late yesterday evening and the details were revealed today. While this is not a done deal yet, the legislation is expected to pass the House and Senate later this week.

The good news: the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) has been reauthorized for 3 years – through the end of fiscal year 2018. While we had hoped for permanent reauthorization, this is still a big win for our community.

Other good news is that LWCF was funded at $450 million for FY2016, which is almost 50% more than in FY2015. This additional funding will to help protect more trails and parks and was very much needed to protect some of our nation’s most vulnerable lands.

Do challenges remain? Absolutely. Three years is actually fairly brief for such a renewal – clearly work must be done. At the very least we must work to reauthorize LWCF again and likely have to fight against strong forces that would make LWCF a powerless and ineffectual program. Additionally, unless we can achieve permanent funding, each year funding levels could fluctuate wildly making long term protection projects nearly impossible to accomplish.

Still, you should take pride in the fact that LWCF is back and funded at a more robust level than in recent years. This is a victory for all who took action; for all who called and emailed and generally “pestered” their elected representatives; for all who told them of the importance of this program to you and to all people who love the outdoors.

It was also a “win” inasmuch as many in Congress learned so much more about this program. It gained many new bipartisan supporters thanks to all the outreach and education that has been taking place. As we continue our efforts to permanently reauthorize and fully fund this vital program, these efforts will continue to pave the way to future success.

The Details

Federal Agency FY16 Omnibus page # FY15Omnibus
National Park Service $53,670,000 724 $48,117,000
US Forest Service $63,435,000 789 $47,500,000
 US Fish & Wildlife Service $68,500,000 716 $47,535,000
Bureau of Land Management $38,630,000 710 $19,746,000
Total Federal: $224,235,000   $156,638,000
State Grants
 NPS Stateside $110,000,000 724 $48,117,000
Cooperative Endangered Species Cons. Fund (Section 6) $30,800,000 717 $27,400,000
American Battlefield Protection Program $10,000,000 724 $8,986,000
Forest Legacy Program $62,347,000 786 $52,775,000
 Total State $213,147,000   $137,278,000
Office of Valuation Serv. $12,618,000 745 $12,000,000
TOTAL LWCF $450,000,000   $305,916,000

To learn more about the funding and the omnibus in general, please read the omnibus budget document. The page numbers listed in the above chart will refer you to the page of that document.