WASHINGTON -- Today, the Senate passed a Continuing Resolution that funds the government into February, but fails to permanently reauthorize the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF), a successful bipartisan conservation and recreation program that has funded projects in all 50 states since it began in 1965. The program, which expired in September and now remains dormant, supported everything from the expansion and maintenance of local parks and recreation centers, to national forests, national parks and historical sites.
”Despite many champs on both sides of the aisle, the lame-duck Congress dropped the ball and didn’t permanently reauthorize the Land and Water Conservation Fund,” said Erik DuMont, public lands campaign director for Environment America, “But given that all of us Americans get to enjoy the parks and lands the LWCF protects, we remain hopeful that the next Congress will get the job done, and soon.”
Since LWCF funding expired, public lands projects have missed out on more than $200 million in revenue, and continue to lose roughly $2.5 million a day.
When the program expired in September, Environment America’s conservation team went to Capitol Hill. On the first day of the World Series, they handed out baseball cookies to remind members of Congress of all the local baseball fields that LWCF has helped to fund. After the midterm elections, they also gave every member of Congress a “#SaveLWCF” rubber duck to keep the program front of mind during the lame-duck session. Also, two of Environment America’s state affiliates, PennEnvironment and Environment Colorado, strategically placed billboards urging Congress to reauthorize LWCF.
“Americans from all walks of life love their public lands, from small city parks to big, iconic national parks,” said DuMont. “The next Congress needs to pick up the conservation mantle and move to permanently reauthorize and fully fund this vital program.”