Why are Landowners Concerned About the LWCF?


What is the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) and what bills in D.C. are looking to fund it?  While talk of the Antiquities Act and national monuments has been circling the region, Congress-approved funding could go to purchasing land.


What is the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF)?

According to the U.S. Department of Interior’s National Park Service Website:

“The LWCF program provides matching grants to States and local governments for the acquisition and development of public outdoor recreation areas and facilities. The program is intended to create and maintain a nationwide legacy of high quality recreation areas and facilities and to stimulate non-federal investments in the protection and maintenance of recreation resources across the United States.”

As outlined in that definition, there is both a state and local side to LWCF funding.  The NPS website tells more about the distinctions between the two and of project funded by LWCF grants from 1965 to 2005.

“Over its first 40 years, LWCF has provided more than $14.4 billion to acquire new federal recreation lands and as grants to State and local governments. For discussion purposes, the LWCF program can be divided into the “State side” — that is grants to State and local governments, the primary theme of this site; and, the “Federal side” — the portion of the LWCF that buys land in new forests, parks, wildlife refuges and other recreation areas owned by the national government.”

On the state side, the NPS website states that 40,000 grants went to state and local governments in that 40-year span.  This represented $3.7 billion that was matched for a total of $7.4 billion.

On the federal side, the LWCF has provided more than $5.5 billion to acquire new federal recreation lands.  This money has gone towards lands such as the Flaming Gorge National Recreation Area (WY), the Sawtooth National Recreation Area (ID) and the Missouri National Recreational River (NB, SD).  Along with allowing the federal government to purchase new areas, the fund has also aided in their efforts to expand existing areas through, according to the NPS website, “the acquisition of key recreation and conservation sites in almost every National Forest and Wildlife Refuge east of the Rockies.”

How could the LWCF get more funding?

There are currently at least three pieces of legislation in Washington, D.C. that aim to amend the current LWCF law that is set to expire in 2015.

H.R. 3534, The Consolidated Land, Energy, and Aquatic Resources Act of 2009, passed the House on July 30, 2010.  The Act (see full text here) would push back the LWCF’s current expiration date from September 30, 2015 to September 30, 2040 and call for permanent funding of $900,000,000 to be available for the fund annually without any added appropriations.

S. 2747, The Land and Water Conservation Reauthorization and Funding Act of 2010, was introduced to the Senate in November of 2009 and referred to the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee.  The Act (see full text here) has numerous cosponsors including Max Baucus (D-MT), Tim Johnson (D-SD) and Jon Tester (D-MT).  It would completely eliminate any end date for the LWCF.  It calls for full funding at its current annual $900,000,000 level and would amend the current Act to not require appropriations past that.

S. 3663, The Clean Energy Jobs and Oil Company Accountability Act of 2010, is sponsored by Senator Harry Reid (D-NV).  This bill (see full text) was considered in committee which has recommended it be considered by the Senate as a whole.  The lengthiest of the three, it would also eliminate any end date for the LWCF.  The funding would be varied.  For 2011 to 2015, $900,000,000 of what is covered into the Fund would be available annually.  In 2016, $425,000,000 of what is covered would be available with the remainder available subject to appropriations.  From 2017 to 2020, any money covered into the Fund would be available subject to appropriations.  From 2021 on, $500,000,000 would be available with any more subject to appropriations.  It also makes amendments to the state and federal land acquisition sections.


© Northern Ag Network 2010

Haylie Shipp


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