Washington D.C. – With the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) scheduled to expire on September 30th, the League of Conservation Voters and state partners today announced a $1 million campaign calling on Congress to reauthorize and fully fund America’s best parks program. The announcement comes days before LCV’s annual Lobby Day on June 6, when constituents from across the country will descend on Congress to encourage their representatives to protect our public lands and environment.
Part of LCV’s ongoing “Our Lands, Our Voice” campaign to fight the Trump administration’s myriad attacks on public lands, the new effort to save LWCF will mobilize supporters across the country through online organizing and grassroots mobilization to share stories about how the program has created parks in their communities. The campaign launch also includes new digital ads urging Representatives Keith Rothfus (PA-12), Vern Buchanan (FL-16), Steve Knight (CA-25) and Mimi Walters (CA-45) to sign onto a bipartisan bill (H.R. 502) to permanently reauthorize the program. More than 225 representatives have cosponsored the bill, but these members are failing to step up and save the program that has protected parks in and around the communities they represent.
In a letter to Congress, LCV and 31 state affiliates outlined LWCF’s long history of creating parks in local communities and protecting national parks, wildlife refuges, trails and other outdoor spaces. “For generations, people across the country have enjoyed, benefitted from, and worked to protect our nation’s lands and waters,” the groups wrote in the letter. “Congress should not make it harder to protect and enhance these incredible places by drastically underfunding LWCF or allowing the program’s authorization to expire.”
“Although legislation to permanently reauthorize LWCF has enjoyed broad bipartisan support in recent years, those bills have not moved forward. Further, opponents of public lands continue to present a false choice — arguing that we cannot both maintain currently protected lands and waters while investing in protecting new areas, even though both together are vital to maintaining parks and other public lands for the next generation,” the letter adds.
While LWCF is funded through revenue from offshore oil drilling instead of taxpayer dollars, Congress has chronically underfunded the program. The Trump administration’s recent budget proposals nearly eliminate LWCF entirely, slashing funding by roughly 90 percent.
“Communities across the country rely on the Land and Water Conservation Fund to preserve and enhance the outdoor spaces that we all enjoy, helping fuel our thriving outdoor recreation economy and ensuring all our children have an opportunity to hike, fish, swim and play in the outdoors,” said LCV President Gene Karpinski. “With Republican leaders blocking bipartisan legislation to save LWCF and Secretary Zinke and the Trump administration taking an axe to our nation’s best parks program, we’ll be pushing harder than ever to make sure the places we love aren’t lost forever.”
LWCF has helped protect some of America’s most iconic landscapes, including the Grand Canyon and the Appalachian Trail. It’s also supported urban open spaces, from New York City’s Central Park to neighborhood ball fields and local parks in nearly every congressional district.