If you haven’t heard of the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF), you aren’t alone; but the chances are good that you have benefited from it in your outdoor recreational pursuits both here in Texas and in the country as a whole. Founded over 50 years ago, LWCF provides funding for the acquisition of land and conservation easements as well as funding for programs that protect wildlife habitat and watersheds, conserve working forestlands, farms, and ranches, and provide recreational opportunities including hunting, fishing, hiking, etc.
Texas has been the recipient of approximately $577 million from LWCF over the past four decades. These funds have been used to protect places like Balcones Canyonlands National Wildlife Refuge, Big Thicket National Preserve, Fort Davis National Historic Site, Guadalupe Mountains National Park, Padre Island National Seashore, Sam Houston National Forest, San Antonio Missions National Historic Park, and many more. If your outdoor adventures have ever taken you to these or any of the other LWCF funded protected places, then you, like Americans all over the country, have experienced first-hand the importance of LWCF.
And the best part is that LWCF uses no tax payer dollars but is funded entirely from the revenue from offshore oil and gas leasing. Throughout the country, LWCF has used that revenue to support 40,400 grants to state and local governments that have protected 3 million acres of recreational land, funded 9.4 million sustainable domestic jobs, and contributed $1.06 trillion annually to the national economy.
But, LWCF is set to expire on Sept. 30 unless lawmakers pass legislation to reauthorize it. This widely-supported bipartisan program needs our help!
In the Senate, S. 569 would permanently reauthorize LCWF, while providing full, dedicated and permanent funding. In the House, H.R. 502 would permanently reauthorize LWCF, while directing a very small amount of funding to open up additional access to public lands for sportsmen and other recreational users.