Anti-Conservation Politicians Run Out the Clock on the Land and Water Conservation Fund Putting America’s Outdoor Heritage in Danger
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congress has allowed America’s most important conservation program to expire, putting America’s National Parks, battlefields, forests, Wildlife Refuges and outdoor recreation sites at risk. For 50 years, the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) has kept a simple promise to the American people: when we allow offshore drilling for oil and gas that belongs to all of us, we set aside a small portion of the proceeds to protect America’s greatest places. Today that linkage between resource extraction and investment in the parks and places that make America great disappeared.
“This is a sad day for everyone who cares about our National Parks and outdoor conservation, recreation and wildlife. Congress has broken an enduring promise to the American people,” said Alan Rowsome, Senior Director of Government Relations for Lands at the Wilderness Society and Co-Chair of the Land and Water Conservation Fund Coalition. “Starting tomorrow, oil drilling will continue, but the American people won’t see a penny of the proceeds reinvested in outdoor conservation and recreation. This is a shameful and brazen assault on America’s greatest places.”
“The expiration of LWCF is an affront to every hunter and angler in the country,” said Land Tawney, Executive Director of Backcountry Hunters and Anglers. “LWCF is the best tool for providing and improving access to the public lands we own, and without it I fear that the best of what America has protected will be locked away behind private tracts that rim our gamelands and national forests.”
“Investments in America’s public lands through the Land and Water Conservation Fund touch the lives of the 142 million people who recreate outside each year and benefit every county in the country. The outdoor industry contributes more than $646 billion in direct consumer spending annually and depends on our public lands and waters for vital recreation infrastructure,” said Amy Roberts, Executive Director of Outdoor Industry Association (OIA). “OIA and our 1300 members are disappointed that Congress has let America’s most important recreation and conservation program die. We will continue to work with leaders in Washington to make sure this expiration isn’t permanent.”
The Land and Water Conservation Fund does not use any taxpayer money; it is funded entirely by oil extraction profits from offshore drilling. It is universally popular with the American people. However, a tiny minority of politicians, who want to spend oil royalties on special interest projects rather than on conserving America’s greatest places, ran out the clock and let the fund expire.
“This is an avoidable and entirely manufactured crisis. There are huge majorities in both the House and Senate that would vote to permanently reauthorize LWCF if leaders would simply allow a vote,” said Rowsome. “Proceeds from offshore oil drilling in public waters should be use to protect our National Parks and other public lands from being destroyed – not for politicians’ pet projects.”
“Our National Parks have been called America’s best idea. The outdoor recreation industry, governors, mayors, sportsmen, small business owners, conservation leaders, landowners, ranchers, farmers, and millions and millions of Americans are united in the push for permanent reauthorization and full funding of the Land and Water Conservation Fund because it works. We will not allow politicians to raid the LWCF trust fund. We will not stop until Congress abides by the will of the people. We will not stop until we save the Land and Water Conservation Fund.”
About the Land and Water Conservation Fund
The Land and Water Conservation Fund is America’s most important conservation program, responsible for protecting parks, wildlife refuges and recreation areas at the federal, state and local level. For 50 years, it has provided critical funding for land and water conservation projects, recreational construction and activities and the continued historic preservation our nation’s iconic landmarks from coast-to-coast.
LWCF does not use any taxpayer dollars – it is funded using a small portion of revenues from offshore oil and gas royalty payments. Outdoor recreation, conservation and historic preservation activities contribute more than a trillion dollars annually to the U.S. economy, supporting 9.4 million jobs.
About the LWCF Coalition
The LWCF Coalition is the umbrella group of more than 1,000 state and local land owners, small businesses, ranchers, sportsmen, veterans, outdoor recreationists, historical preservationists and conservation organizations working to protect America’s public lands and safeguard our shared outdoor heritage for future generations.
The Coalition is united in its advocacy for the reauthorization and full funding of the Land and Water Conservation Fund, which will ensure the continued conservation of our national parks, forests, wildlife refuges, wilderness, civil war battlefields, as well as state and local parks
For more information on LWCF and the places in each state conserved using LWCF funds, visit www.lwcfcoalition.org.