Budget Deal Includes LWCF Boost
A congressional budget deal released yesterday would fund the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) at $495 million for fiscal year 2020, a $57 million boost over the program’s current funding and its highest spending level since 2004.
“The bipartisan budget deal announced yesterday would be a major investment in the protection of our treasured landscapes,” said Kameran Onley, director of U.S. government relations at The Nature Conservancy. “Boosting funding for America’s best conservation program, responsible for protecting lands and waters in every state, reaffirms Congress’ commitment to preserving important landscapes, expanding outdoor recreational opportunities and supporting local economies.
“Despite the increased investment in LWCF from this budget deal, overall program funding is significantly short of the authorized level, leaving resources on the table that should be going to protect parks, forests and wetlands for future generations. The only way to stop this cycle is for Congress to deliver full and permanent funding for LWCF.”
The proposal comes as lawmakers continue to debate whether to approve legislation that would remove LWCF from the annual appropriations process. Supported by federal offshore oil and gas revenues, LWCF is already authorized by Congress to receive up to $900 million a year but is rarely funded at that level, with money intended to go to the fund regularly diverted to other, non-conservation purposes.
Bipartisan companion proposals in the House and Senate would end this cycle of underfunding. Under these proposals, the $900 million would automatically go to LWCF, making those funds available for important conservation projects throughout the country.
The budget deal comes just weeks after the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee voted in favor of the Senate’s full funding proposal, S. 1081, and nearly a year after Congress overwhelmingly approved a sweeping public lands bill that permanently reauthorized LWCF. A bipartisan companion bill in the House, H.R. 3195, passed the House Natural Resources Committee in June.
“The broad, bipartisan support for these demonstrates that we are closer than ever to finally getting this important conservation tool the funding it needs to protect America’s wild places,” said Onley. “We look forward to continue working with congressional leaders in the new year to secure permanent, full funding for LWCF.”
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 75 countries and territories: 37 by direct conservation impact and 38 through partners, 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.