Do you remember that Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) thing that has been a hot topic among conservation organizations this year? Well, back in March Congress agreed to make it a permanent program which will receive funding through the appropriations process, however, Congress could never agree on how much money it should receive. When the LWCF was first enacted, it was set up to collect $900 million annually. Unfortunately, in the 50+ years the program has been around, this has only happened twice.

Most recently, on September 24th the LWCF was granted funding through a suite of bills approved by the Senate subcommittee for the Interior, Environment and Related Agencies. LWCF received a whopping $465 million which is the highest it has been funded in 15 years. While this is only half of the $900 million allotted to the LWCF, it is still $30 million more than it was funded in fiscal year 2019.

Senator Udall of New Mexico was a champion for getting this bill approved. He stated to the committee that he will “keep fighting for the resources we need to protect New Mexico and the nation’s natural resources and fulfill our trust and treaty responsibilities to Native communities.” A big thanks is owed to Senator Udall and all of the members of the committee, like Senator Murkowski, who were willing to work across the aisle to fund LWCF and, as Udall mentions in his statement, keep the bill “free of new poison pill, anti-environment provisions – providing Americans with better access to outdoor recreation while protecting our air and water.”

Due to lack of permanent funding, Congress will have to determine the LWCF’s budget on an annual basis which could mean wide variations of funding from year to year. During Climb the Hill this year, we advocated for H.R. 3195 and S.B. 1081, legislation that would ensure adequate funding for LWCF in perpetuity because we believe that LWCF is a necessary tool to continue to protect the special places where we camp, climb, and recreate across the country. If you would like to learn more about LWCF check out this blog we wrote detailing what it is, how it works, and where we see it in action.

Now that LWCF has been funded for 2020, it is important to thank our representatives, and remind them that while this increase in funding is a step in the right direction, the LWCF should be receiving $900 million annually, in perpetuity. Use our easy letter writing tool below to shoot your representatives a note on why you believe LWCF should be fully funded.