Wednesday, August 25, 2010

The Land and Water Conservation Fund - Let's Put it to Good Use

The Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) was established by Congress in 1964 to help fund state and local conservation efforts and to protect national parks, forests and wilderness areas. Funding comes from offshore oil and gas leases.

Over its 46-year history, LWCF has helped state agencies and local communities acquire nearly seven million acres of land and has underwritten the development of more than 37,000 state and local park and recreation projects. Federal LWCF project sites include popular recreational areas like Harper's Ferry, West Virginia, California's Big Sur Coast, and the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem in Montana. Stateside LWCF project sites include New York City's Central Park, Golden Gate Park in San Francisco, and Custer State Park in South Dakota, as well as thousands of local playgrounds, soccer fields, and baseball diamonds.

LWCF is authorized at $900 million annually; a level that has been met only twice during the program's 46 years. The program is divided into State grants and Federal acquisition funds. In FY 2005, the federal acquisition pot received $166 million and the state grants program received $92.5 million for a total of $258.5 million. In FY 2006 the federal pot received $114.5 and the state grants received $30 million. FY 2007 a total of only $138 million was received between the two.

Efforts are now underway in Congress to ensure full funding for the LWCF and your voice is an important part of making full funding a reality. If you value open spaces to recreate in, contact your senators today. Legislation that would fully fund LWCF for five years was passed by the House as a part of the gulf oil spill reform package. Companion legislation will be considered on the floor of the Senate in the coming months. NEMO has signed their letter of support, we hope you'll voice your support, too.


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