You are here

Four letters you should know

Land and Water Conservation FundPhoto credit: Flickr user Loco Steve

Ok, so no one likes unraveling acronyms. But if you care about getting outdoors, this one should be on your radar. Ready? L-W-C-F.

It stands for the Land and Water Conservation Fund, and it's the budgetary lifeblood for parks and open space in the United States. Established by Congress 50 years ago, it aims to protect the nation's most iconic landscapes—and expand access to outdoor recreation—without taxing everyday Americans. 

Instead, LWCF uses a portion of oil companies' revenue from offshore drilling to support public lands and outdoor recreation: everything from cultural landmarks to the forests and lakes where families go to camp, hike, fish, and explore. Makes sense—especially since research shows that every $1 in spending from the fund returns $4 to the economy. But over the fund's history, politicians have diverted billions of dollars to other purposes. And this year, unless Congress votes to renew it, the Land and Water Conservation Fund will expire.

The end of LWCF would have serious consequences—not just for the national parks we all treasure, but for community open space all across the country. Need some examples? Here are some local Trust for Public Land projects made possible by LWCF just this year.

Montbello Open Space, Denver, ColoradoLocal kids will help in the habitat restoration effort at the project site.Photo credit: Environmental Learning for Kids (ELK)

Montebello Open Space Project—Denver, Colorado

The Montbello neighborhood of northeast Denver has never had its fair share of open space. To help change that, we've joined local partners to transform a five-acre lot into a new park, complete with walking trails and an education center. Engaging local youth in the effort to restore the native prairie habitat is an exciting opportunity to train the next generation of scientists and environmental stewards.

Johnson Oak Park—Bridgeport, Connecticut

As part of our Parks for People initiative, we're enlisting the help of local students to transform this barren park and schoolyard in Bridgeport's underserved East End. A participatory design process means that the community decides what features work best to create a safer, greener, and more inviting place to play.

Proctor Creek Park—Atlanta, Georgia

The Land and Water Conservation Fund will support site cleanup and landscaping at Proctor Creek Park, at the heart of an 10,000-acre urban watershed that feeds into the Chattahoochee River. We're working with neighbors and the city to add transit-accessible green space and boost walkability in communities that today bear the scars of West Atlanta's industrial past. 

The health of our rivers is tied to our urban watersheds. Photo credit: Darcy Kiefel

You can help support community projects like these—and protect our public lands for generations to come. Spread the word, sign the petition, and call or write your representatives. Tell them you support the reauthorization of the Land and Water Conservation Fund.

Comments

Michael Mattson
Do what's right, by that I mean support the reauthorization of the Land and Water Conservation Fund.
Hartson Doak
Everyone needs to reconnect to the land every now and then. Protect these areas, PLEASE.
d. Heffelfinger
Do NOT let the LWCF expire or go unfunded. Please do the job you were elected for. I want my grandchildren and their grandchildren to see all these treasures.
Synergy
When my husband (ex-) and I drove all the way from Salem, Oregon, to Baltimore, Maryland, we camped each night (for free) in a National Forest. We had maps from the National Forestry offices, and from somewhere in Washington DC that mailed us a map of the national forests in the entire United States. We found out two things, while we were traveling, plus one more that was at one time known about in Oregon : (1) some areas on the map of National Forests are not forests at all! One in particular that we saw was near the Idaho-Utah border. It was nothing but rocky, bare, sandy hills. No trees. (2) in the eastern states, there are no national forests. There are forested PRIVATE PROPERTIES. These areas are residential neighborhoods. A National Forestry forester at a ranger station in one of those areas told us that these eastern USA areas are designated for the Federal Government/Forestry Department to purchase at some future date. Maybe when a property comes up for sale the Feds have "first rights" to buy. But when will that ever happen? This country does not have the will or priority to buy any more Federal lands. So the so-called national forest lands east of, somewhere like Ohio, will remain in private hands. (3) In Oregon, when Mark Hatfield was our Senator, there were posters going up on store windows about the Mark Hatfield National Forest, which showed the sign naming the forest, and behind the sign, nothing but stumps and clear-cutting as far as one could see.
Richard Fehr
In a sixties song the lyrics included "pave paradise and put and parking lost". To allow the Land and Water Conservation Fund to expire is to have more and more of our nation's paradises lost to paving and other development. In Ken Burns' documentary about our National Parks, it was commented several times that setting aside special places throughout our country "was our nation's best idea". It also mentioned our country was the first to take such actions and our example lead our countries to also set aside some of their nations' special places. There are great reasons to continue funding LCWF and only misguided reasons not to continue funding LCWF.
Candace Johnson
Protect LWCF don't let it expire . Take care of the land it is not an option to allow it to be destroyed .We need to be god care takers of this earth and the wild that is left on it. Do the job that you are there for to protect our public treasures including these pristine lands from being destroyed by building on them. Fund that which will keep them pristine and beautiful.
Candace Johnson
Protect LWCF don't let it expire . Take care of the land it is not an option to allow it to be destroyed .We need to be god care takers of this earth and the wild that is left on it. Do the job that you are there for to protect our public treasures including these pristine lands from being destroyed by building on them. Fund that which will keep them pristine and beautiful.
Dee Kowalski
Elected Members of Congress. It is time to renew and fund Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) . It is also time to START doing the job your were elected to do, which is to protect and fund projects that the American People want. Get your hand out of the pocket of big business and the self serving people who lobby for them. You have done to LWCF exactly what you have done to Social Security....diverted from their funds to use for other things and NEVER paid it back. This election will prove that this kind of "business as usual" by Congress will not continue. You represent the people who pay taxes and your salaries....we want our National Parks, our treasures protected forever....so do your job and vote the authorization of the Land and Water Conservation Fund. Do NOT let the LWCF expire or go unfunded.

Leave a Comment