The Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) is a broad, bipartisan commitment to protecting America’s special places and most important natural resources. Since 1964, the LWCF has invested nearly $4 billion of non-taxpayer money in conservation projects across the country. Here in Idaho, we have received nearly $300 million over the years to fund projects in every single county in the state. These projects include building local parks and trail systems, creating and expanding outdoor recreation access, and enhancing public lands. Chances are good that an area special to you has been supported by the LWCF.
LWCF projects are funded by revenues from offshore drilling, ensuring that the royalties from natural resources owned by all Americans make their way back into our communities. The program has been so successful that it was permanently reauthorized by Congress earlier this year with bipartisan support, enhancing our quality of life and protecting the outdoors for generations to come. Both Idaho Senators and Congressman Mike Simpson supported this legislation.
This is an enormous victory, but there is one final hurdle. Though the program is designed to receive $900 million from offshore drilling, rarely has the LWCF been funded to the full amount. Last minute budget debates and political games often divert LWCF funds to unrelated projects, leaving less money for local ballparks, trailheads, and conservation projects. Now that the LWCF has been permanently reauthorized, we need to call upon our lawmakers to keep their promise to Americans and ensure “America’s Best Parks Program” has the full designated funding it needs to protect land and water in our communities and on public lands throughout the country.