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LWCF-protected Big Walnut Preserve in Indiana © Cristina Rutter

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Senators Propose Full Funding for Land and Water Conservation Fund

Would dedicate funding to LWCF for first time in its 54-year history

Arlington, Va.

A bipartisan group of senators introduced legislation today to fully fund the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) and make that funding mandatory.  

The legislation would dedicate $900 million in offshore oil and natural gas royalties to LWCF, the full amount the program is authorized to receive annually by law. This $900 million would automatically go to LWCF rather than having lawmakers decide how much LWCF should get as a part of the annual appropriations process, a process that for decades has underfunded the program.

The bill comes just weeks after Congress passed with broad, bipartisan support a sweeping public lands bill that permanently reauthorized LWCF after it had expired last year. The bill is sponsored by Sens. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Cory Gardner (R-Colo.). Joining them as original co-sponsors are Sens. Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) and Richard Burr (R-N.C.), who authored a similar bill that was approved by the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee last Congress. Other co-sponsors include Sens. Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), Susan Collins (R-Maine), Angus King (I-Maine), Jon Tester (D-Mont.), Steve Daines (R-Mont.), Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), Tom Udall (D-N.M.), Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), Lindsay Graham (R-S.C.) and Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.).   

The following is a statement by Kameran Onley, director of U.S. government relations at The Nature Conservancy:

“In February, Congress made a promise to the American people: Our country’s best conservation program is here to stay. Permanently reauthorizing the Land and Water Conservation Fund was a major win for the preservation of public lands across the country, ensuring that we will always have a critical tool for expanding national parks, protecting watersheds and creating new outdoor recreation opportunities for communities eager to get into the outdoors.

“Today’s funding bill will fulfill the rest of that promise, ensuring LWCF will always have the full and dedicated funding it needs to continue conserving our treasured natural landscapes. We urge lawmakers to work together in the same bipartisan spirit that made permanent reauthorization a reality and do the same for 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 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.