A teenage girl walking along a trail in the San Gabriel Mountains.
Julia Stotz Photography

A bill to fully fund LWCF is moving through Congress. Here's what's at stake.

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Big news for parks fans! This week the Senate passed the Great American Outdoors Act, a landmark conservation bill that will shape the future of parks and open spaces in America for generations to come. By a 73-25 margin, Senators on both sides of the aisle united behind the dual goals of fixing the massive maintenance backlog at our national parks and other public lands, and securing full and dedicated funding for the Land and Water Conservation Fund, or LWCF.

(Read more about the Great American Outdoors Act from one of its authors, U.S. Senator Martin Heinrich of New Mexico.)

LWCF is a longstanding federal program that directs fees from oil and gas drilling to investments in parks and open space. It costs taxpayers nothing—but benefits everyone. The legislation that created LWCF back in the 1960s allocates up to $900 million to parks and conservation ever year, but that funding has never been guaranteed. Instead, for the past decade, Congress has directed more than half of that funding to other ends.

Here’s why the Great American Outdoors Act is such a big deal: if this bill passes Congress and clears the president’s desk, it’ll amount to a 240 percent increase in LWCF funding for the decade to come, compared to the decade that just passed. That means stable and predictable public funding to support big, complex land conservation deals—and a massive expansion in federal support for our goal of creating a park within a 10-minute walk of every person in America.

ct_johnsonoak_10292018_029Johnson Oak Park in Bridgeport, Connecticut.Photo Credit: Nick Benson Photography

(Why is this important now? Explore ten communities that need LWCF funding to protect and create the places that matter to them.)

Trust for Public Land supporters have been fighting for this important policy for over twenty years. In the weeks to come, we’ll be keeping the pressure on our elected leaders to make sure they follow through on the promise of the Land and Water Conservation Fund.

What's at stake

Wherever you go to get outside, chances are some of your favorite places were protected thanks to LWCF. The fund has been used to conserve land in all 50 states and complete more than 45,000 state and local park projects—everything from historic sites and cultural landmarks to the forests and lakes where you go to camp, hike, fish, and explore.

Explore a few recent projects whose success depends on LWCF below. The future of countless places like these is on the line right now as the House of Representatives takes up the bill in the coming weeks. If you believe everyone needs a great place to get outside, urge your representative to support the Great American Outdoors Act.


Mary Joyce Dixon
I do hope that this can be true.
Sharon Bartlett
We must protect this land for our children and grandchildren.
Suzanne Zook
We need to do everything we can to protect outdoor spaces for the good of all citizens.
Dorene Herrmann
Passing the Land & Water Conservation Fund impacts the physical, mental & emotional health of everyone in this country.
Sara Lee
Please do this so we have something to pass along to our kids! And to enjoy now and for the future.
Patricia Armstrong
This bill is important to each American for multiple reasons. We owe our children's children the right to visit open, preserved lands, we owe own health, both mental and physical, that these lands (big and small) provide for us. We've already lost so much that we didn't know we had until it was gone. Please please preserve and create new spaces for the future.
Michael Daigle
I only hope that it doesn’t open public land for drilling and fracking wick I know is something the current ecology hating administration is looking for because it is a good way for the mega rich to make more money and screw the middle class.
Jennifer Heggie
Maintaining open space is important. Let's ensure that that these spaces are managed in an environmentally responsible way.
Nancy Mccormick
Please pass the parks bill for the good of America.
Cheryl W. Reames
Please save our public lands. If the get destroyed, we cannot replace them.
Timothy Morgan
Were Teddy Roosevelt alive today, you can rest assured this would be a bipartisan cause.
Jimmie Lou Oneal
We need to save our public lands for future generations, it's the least we can do.
Ellen Miller
It seems that more and more people are loving the outdoors in "nonconsumptive" ways, and the so called "sports" of hunting and trapping are on the wane. It is our fervent hope that these lands will be dedicated to providing a safe space for all creatures from Prairie dogs to grizzly bears, from the less 'popular' animals to the "common" ones such as deer and moose. All deserve a safe habitat. If this movement provides that we will have left a great legacy after all.
Michael Vickers
Any and all funds needed to fund the National Parks are of great need. With everything that the Trump administration has done to destroy our parks and recreations is well known if you follow what they have done since this idiot became president. The American people all have to stand up and make their voices be heard load and strong. We all need to get the word out that the November 3rd elections for President when we will have Joe Biden as the prime the candidate for the office of President. Please tell anyone and everyone that you know that we have to get them all to the polls so that they can cast their ballots.
anne baldwin
Our national parks are our coveted gems. There are no more choices after they are abused and destroyed. Maintenance is imperative and long overdue. Chipping away segments and usages of our parklands is willful, careless disregard for what we hold dear. Yes, it takes money for maintenance and support of our parks but once lost, there will be no recovery. Let's do this!
Ed Epley
The only way this administration would be happy with this is if it opened up other lands (out of sight) for fracking and fossil fuels and timber harvesting. Beware!!!
bill kellenbeck
this is a major step forward for all of us protecting all that is the cycle of life

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