Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF)

The Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) was established by Congress in 1965. The Act designated that a portion of receipts from offshore oil and gas leases be placed into a fund annually for state and local conservation, as well as for the protection of our national treasures (parks, forest, and wildlife areas).

Since its inception, LWCF has done much to create and maintain our system of state, local and national parks—from local baseball fields to Yellowstone National Park—and ensure equal access to parklands for all Americans. Since its inception, LWCF has helped state agencies and local communities acquire over seven million acres of land; in addition, LWCF has underwritten the development of more than 41,000 state and local park and recreation projects. Federal LWCF project sites include such popular recreational areas as Harpers Ferry in West Virginia, California's Big Sur Coast, and the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem in Montana. Stateside LWCF project sites include New York City's Central Park, Golden Gate Park in San Francisco, and Custer State Park in South Dakota, as well as thousands of local playgrounds, soccer fields, and baseball diamonds.

LWCF is authorized at $900 million annually, a level that has been met only once during the program's history. The program is divided into two distinct funding pots: State grants and Federal acquisition funds. The "stateside" of LWCF is distributed to all 50 states, DC, and the territories by a formula based on population among other factors. State grant funds can be used but states and local governments for park development and for acquisition of lands and easements.

The Federal side of LWCF provides for national park, forest and wildlife refuge and Bureau of Land Management area fee and easement acquisitions. Each year, based on priority recommendations from the federal land management agencies (NPS, USFS, FWS, BLM), the President can forward these recommendations to Congress requesting funding for specific LWCF projects. Once received by Congress, these projects go through a rigorous Appropriations Committee review process with much input from Representatives and Senators representing project areas.

More about the federal Land and Water Conservation Fund.