New Conservation Bill Aims to Rebuild National Parks and Fully Fund LWCF

If you have spent much time recreating in the United States, you have likely spent a considerable amount of time at a site partially or fully funded by the Land and Water Conservation Fund. Public land-use areas such as National Parks, National Forests, Fish and Wildlife, and Bureau of Land Management are funded by the LWCF.

The fifty-year-old LWCF is mostly funded by offshore drilling royalties, but funds have been diverted for decades to support other political initiatives not related to conservation. Each state has at least one LWCF site and many of us travel to these refuges, forests, and other outdoor sites without even noticing. 

Land and Water Conservation Fund Sites in US

Land and Water Conservation Fund Sites in US

On Tuesday, August 4th, President Trump signed into law the bi-partisan Great American Outdoors Act that will permanently fund the Land Water Conservation Fund as well as earmark up to $9.5 billion over five years to address the backlog in maintenance needs at National Parks. 

The funding to the National Parks is needed as badly as a permanent funding was needed for LWCF. Since 1980, the number of visitors to the national parks has increased 50 percent, but the parks’ budget has remained mostly flat. There is an estimated $12 billion maintenance and repair backlog in the parks to repair visitor infrastructure such as roads, campgrounds, and trails that will be addressed with this new money. 

Despite the political polarization dominating the news cycle in the United States right now, the passing of the Great American Outdoor Act is a massive win for conservation and land-use advocates. The act passed through Congress with bipartisan support in the House (310-107) and Senate (73-25), largely thought to be due to the growing economic uncertainty caused by the Coronavirus Pandemic. Although the signing ceremony was a bit awkward, a bill was signed into law that should guarantee access to public lands for generations to come. 

Header image courtesy National Park Service

Photo by Brett Willhelm


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