Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks National Monument (New Mexico) is among public lands for which LWCF projects have been proposed by the Obama administration in FY 2017.
Credit: Bob Wick (BLM), flickr.
The budget proposal is part of the Obama administration’s stated strategy of securing permanent reauthorization and full funding for the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) by the year 2018, when a temporary reauthorization brokered in late 2015 is set to expire.
The White House’s Fiscal Year 2017 budget proposes a $900 million investment in the Land and Water Conservation Fund, equal to the amount authorized in the bill that created the program back in 1964. This would be an important and long-overdue step forward; actual funding levels have approached this amount only a twice, even as new pressures threaten wildlands and shared spaces with development, fragmentation or other damage.
Now it’s up to Congress to ensure that this LWCF funding is approved. In the coming months, the House and Senate will hold hearings and receive testimony on budget needs, including LWCF, followed by the introduction of appropriations bills that we will urge be aligned with President Obama’s vision to fund conservation. The Wilderness Society will work with leaders in Washington, DC to ensure that wildlands get their fair share.
LWCF is a popular, effective program in need of champions
The Land and Water Conservation Fund is a rare program that enjoys bipartisan support in our nation’s capital and boasts tens of thousands of past successes. It takes money from offshore oil and gas royalties and invests it in conservation projects across the nation.
Typically these projects involve acquiring “inholdings”—pieces of private land within the borders of national parks, forests, wildlife refuges and other protected sites. When the federal government buys inholdings, it can make a piece of public land “whole” and simpler to manage as a complete landscape. This makes it easier to protect wildlife habitat and make the place accessible for outdoor recreation—all without relying on taxpayer money.
The Land and Water Conservation Fund was allowed to lapse in September 2015 thanks to a few anti-conservation politicians. The Wilderness Society and other conservation advocates fought for a temporary extension a few months later, but LWCF remains in need of permanent reauthorization and full funding, a commitment underscored by the Obama administration’s strong proposal.
Budget proposal contains conservation projects across U.S.
The Land and Water Conservation Fund has helped conserve treasured lands from Acadia National Park (Maine) to Grand Teton National Park (Wyoming) to Muir Woods National Monument (California). President Obama’s proposal features more than 75 new projects, including expanding outdoor recreation access to Idaho’s High Divide and projects in Redwood National Park (California) and Denali National Park (Alaska).
We will continue to work with leaders in Washington DC to give these and other conservation projects the support they need, and fight for the permanent reauthorization of America’s greatest conservation program.