The Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) has been America's most important conservation funding tool for nearly 50 years. Since 1964, the fund has preserved millions of acres in all 50 states, and almost every U.S. county. This includes conservation of national parks, local trails, national recreation areas, wildlife refuges and more. States can also earn matching grants for open spaces, parks and recreation areas. Yet, the clock is ticking for the LWCF because the current anti-conservation Congress is threatening not to re-authorize this successful program.
The Land and Water Conservation Fund, which is truly a brilliant idea, costs taxpayers nothing. It works by using royalties from offshore oil and gas leasing to buy and conserve pockets of private land within national parks, known as "inholdings," and other lands around national forests, refuges and recreation areas. Such lands are then conserved and protected from nearby development. Places like Grand Canyon National Park, Ariz., Rocky Mountain National Park, Colo, Antietam National Battlefield, Md., and Cape Hatteras National Seashore, N.C., have all benefited from the fund.
If the Land and Water Conservation fund is not renewed, hundreds of needed conservation projects will have no funding. Special wild areas that are at risk of being developed will be threatened, and our nation's ability to conserve lands for future generations will be undercut.
The projects on this map show how valuable the Land and Water Conservation Fund is to Americans. Explore the map to see nearly every project funded in each state over the history of the fund.
Map: Explore county by county to see nearly every state & national LWCF project
National projects are pin drops (approx. location)
To view state matching grant projects, click a county. Data available in "show related records" (Data thru 2014)
Dig deeper: Looking for dollar amounts for specific projects? Click on the state or a pinpoint within the state that you're interested in. Then click the "Show Related Records" link at the bottom of the data box. This will open a list of LWCF project names and funding amounts within the state you've chosen. Additionally, full data can be downloaded as CSV files by selecting "Options" in this menu. See example below:
Data Methods, Sources, and Download Data:
State side LWCF Projects:
State Side LWCF information was created by joining the National Park Service LWCF stateside online database and the US Census information on population estimate in 2013 with the GIS shapes from the ESRI USA County layer. A unique identifier was created that combined the County name and the State name to join the LWCF and Census information to the County GIS layer. The calculation for LWCF Per Capita Funding was calculated by dividing the Total LWCF Funds by the Population Estimate.
United States. National Park Service. (n.d.). State LWCF. Retrieved June 22, 2015, from http://www.nps.gov/ncrc/programs/lwcf/fed_state.html
US Census 2013 population estimate:
United States Census Bureau. (n.d.). Retrieved June 22, 2015, from http://www.census.gov/support/USACdataDownloads.html
US County GIS Data:
Environmental Systems Research Institute. (2/6/2015). USA Counties. Retrieved June 22, 2015, from http://www.arcgis.com/home/item.html?id=a00d6b6149b34ed3b833e10fb72ef47b
Federal side LWCF Projects:
The Federal LWCF projects were compiled from two sources, the annual Congressional Appropriations Bills and the National Park Service. The Federal units were then geocoded using the Google and Bing geocoding services, followed by a manual verification of location. The National Park Service units were added by converting a NPS GIS file to centerpoints and merging into the full list. This is not a complete list of Federal LWCF projects as not all agencies have compiled information on LWCF projects.
Annual Congressional Appropriations Bills:
LWCF Coalition. (n.d.). Retrieved June 22, 2015, from http://www.lwcfcoalition.org/usa-conservation.html
National Park Service LWCF projects:
Percentage of Land Purchased with LWCF by Park Unit.xlsx. (n.d.). Received June 23, 2015, from Nadine Leisz, Chief, National Program Center, Land Resources Program
National Park Service Units GIS:
United States. National Park Service. (n.d.). National Park Service Geographic Information Systems Data and Information. Retrieved June 22, 2015, from http://www.nps.gov/gis/data_info/
USGSTopo (MapServer). (n.d.). Retrieved July 16, 2015, from http://basemap.nationalmap.gov/arcgis/rest/services/USGSTopo/MapServer
More LWCF resources:
- Infographic: The Land and Water Conservation Fund: Key to preserving America's recreation lands
- The clock is ticking for the Land and Water Conservation Fund
- Less than 100 days until the Land and Water Conservation Fund expires
- Conservation funding FAQs