Time for an update on the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF).
Last time we checked in, the widely-supported bipartisan program was set to expire on September 30, 2018 unless lawmakers passed legislation to reauthorize it. Unfortunately, the deadline passed, and the program was not renewed.
Fast forward to February 2019, and we were thrilled to hear that the Senate passed the most sweeping conservation legislation in a decade, which will protect millions of acres of land and hundreds of miles of wild rivers. And perhaps the most significant change the legislation would make is the permanent authorization of LWCF. Congressional funding for the program has not exactly been consistent since its inception in 1965, so while spending will not be mandatory within this bill, having a permanent program is a big win.
Of course, we didn’t want to count our chickens before they hatch. Next up was a vote in the House.
Just two weeks after approval in the Senate, the House approved the same land conservation bill with a vote of 363-62! This is an exciting bipartisan victory for conservation.
In case you need a quick refresher, LWCF uses offshore drilling revenue to fund conservation efforts across the country. This could be anything from major national parks and wildlife preserves to acquisition of land and conservation easements. This funding is important for states like Texas where 95% of land is privately owned and large-scale conservation falls to land trusts like Texas Land Conservancy and the landowners they partner with.
While the President has yet to sign the bill into law, this effort shows that no matter your political affiliation, protecting land, water, and wildlife across the country is a priority.
For more information about how LWCF has been used in Texas, click here.
Articles about the bill: