Congress Fails to Renew Land and Water Conservation Fund
America’s Leading Conservation Program Absent for Longest Time in 53 Years
The U.S. Senate passed a measure last night to keep the federal government funded until February but failed to include a public lands package that would have reauthorized the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) in that bill. It was the final opportunity to renew LWCF, which expired in September, before the end of the year. The following is a statement from Kameran Onley, director of U.S. Government Relations at The Nature Conservancy:
“What a disappointing way for Congress to end its session, when it had a clear way to simply allow Land and Water Conservation Fund renewal to be included in final votes for the year. LWCF has a long track record of success, strong bipartisan support and champions from a broad range of businesses, landowners, conservation organizations and state and local officials. Renewing the program had obviously enough support to pass—if it had just been allowed to receive a vote before the clock ran out. Now, Congress will continue to force our nation to go without its leading conservation program for the longest time since it was created 53 years ago.
“LWCF doesn’t cost taxpayers anything. While it is expired, it can no longer receive funding that was always intended to balance the use of one public resource, oil and gas drilling revenues, by conserving others. Denying that fundamental principle and risking our ability to conserve some of our nation’s most valued places was the wrong choice. For the benefit of our families, economy and lands and waters, Congress must make renewing this program one of its first priorities in its new session next year.
“If there is a bright spot here, it is the inspiring and tremendous efforts of LWCF’s champions in the Senate in recent days to try everything they could to renew the program. We’re grateful they were able to secure an agreement to address these important public lands issues early next year. We stand ready to support that urgent and critical effort however we can.”
The Nature Conservancy is a global conservation organization dedicated to conserving the lands and waters on which all life depends. Guided by science, we create innovative, on-the-ground solutions to our world's toughest challenges so that nature and people can thrive together. We are tackling climate change, conserving lands, waters and oceans at an unprecedented scale, providing food and water sustainably and helping make cities more sustainable. Working in 72 countries, we use a collaborative approach that engages local communities, governments, the private sector, and other partners. To learn more, visit www.nature.org or follow @nature_press on Twitter.