The Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) is America’s most successful conservation and recreation fund. Since its creation in 1965, the LWCF has preserved natural spaces in every county across the United States, and has invested $8.2 billion in a wide variety of projects.
The LWCF has invested over $320 million in New York State projects alone, which has generated state and local revenue, created jobs, and ensured the preservation of forests, parks, wildlife refuges, and outdoor recreational areas. Across the state, the LWCF has provided funding for over 1,200 projects to help protect places including Robert Moses State Park and Jones Beach on Long Island; Red Hook Pool in Brooklyn; Roberto Clemente State Park in the Bronx; Sterling Forest in the Hudson Valley; Whiteface Mountain in the Adirondacks; and the Erie Canal Trail spanning from Albany to Buffalo.
For several years now, NYLCV has been part of a national effort to save the LWCF and to fully fund it at $900 million annually to protect the local, state, and national beaches, bays, parks, open spaces, and cultural treasures that we love. In 2019, NYLCV and its partners successfully saved the LWCF by securing permanent reauthorization and have since been focused on urging members of congress to fully fund it.
There was a recent game-changing development in the campaign that may lead to success this year. With bipartisan support from a group of 59 Senate co-sponsors including the Majority Leader and Minority Leader Chuck Schumer as well as President Trump, “The Great American Outdoors Act” was introduced. The bill, if passed, would provide full dedicated funding for the LWCF and address the maintenance backlog in America’s national parks and other public lands.
While Congress has been focused on passing emergency relief bills addressing the public health and economic impacts of COVID-19, the next wave of bills are likely to include broader economic stimulus including infrastructure provisions. NYLCV and its partners believe that the Great American Outdoors Act could fit into one such package. As we keep our eyes on this space, we’re teeing up support from members of Congress and raising public visibility of the LWCF as an important economic driver.
For more information, please visit the Land and Water Conservation Fund Coalition website.