UPDATED: Victory! Congress Revives Land and Water Conservation Fund
Conservationists and outdoor recreation enthusiasts celebrate the inclusion of a critical conservation program in the federal budget deal.
Update: The Senate voted Wednesday, April 20, to approve an energy bill that contains permanent reauthorization for LWCF, a strong step toward ensuring this important program lasts for future generations. Recently, LWCF expanded protection for land along the Pacific Crest Trail.
The House passed its energy bill in December. Now, the two bodies of Congress will have to reconcile their bills in conference before being signed into law.
The following was originally published December 16, 2015.
Following months of hard work by hikers, conservationists and other outdoor recreation enthusiasts, Congress included a critical conservation program in the year-end omnibus budget bill.
The Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) expired in September after 50 years of success at preserving America's great outdoors. The fund has been used to permanently protect land threatened with development by working with willing seller private landowners to add land to national, state and local parks, trails and other public lands.
This week, the program was reauthorized for three years and will be funded at $450 million in 2016, a 50 percent increase over 2015 funding. This means LWCF's success will continue to be magnified. Advocates will continue to seek permanent authorization and full funding for the program, but this is a promising step forward.
In Washington alone, the program has done everything from purchase land to reroute unsafe sections of the Pacific Crest Trail to fund urban parks. More than 9,000 acres along Washington's 500-mile stretch of Pacific Crest Trail are currently privately owned, meaning access is not guaranteed forever. That total acreage was once much higher, but has been greatly reduced thanks to LWCF funding.
Thank you to our members and hiker advocates who spoke up for restoring LWCF funding. WTA is also grateful for the bipartisan support from Washington's Senators and Representatives who made this victory possible.
Learn more about LWCF: