Natural Resources Committee Passes Provision for LWCF Funding

The Trust for Public Land, a national conservation organization, today applauded the House of Representative’s Natural Resources Committee for voting 27-21 to pass legislation that will provide permanent and full funding for land conservation. The provision, included in the Consolidated Land, Energy, and Aquatic Resources Act of 2009 (CLEAR Act, HR 3534), would ensure that the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF), the federal government’s means of buying land, would receive its full $900 million annually. The legislation will revitalize this beleaguered program, which has been poorly funded and unable to address backlogged conservation and recreation needs at the state and federal level.

“The LWCF was intended to help offset the potential damages from offshore oil and gas production by protecting some of America’s most precious land resources and provide close-to-home recreational opportunities for Americans in every state in the nation,” said Will Rogers, President of The Trust for Public Land. “Given the tragic leak of oil in the Gulf of Mexico, the vision behind the Land and Water Conservation Fund is even more relevant than ever. We commend the leadership of Rep. Nick J. Rahall, D-W.Va., for including dedicated funding in the CLEAR Act.”

During committee deliberation, amendments that were offered to weaken and strike the LWCF amendment were defeated.

LWCF is supposed to receive $900 million per year, part of the offshore revenues, which usually amount to more than $5 billion annually – but has been shortchanged by Congress nearly every year, with revenues diverted to other purposes. Full funding has been appropriated only once in the 45-year history of the LWCF, and recently declined to a low of $138 million in 2007.

“This shortfall has resulted in a huge land protection and outdoor recreation backlog of unmet funding needs across our federal public lands, and state and local parks,” said Rogers. “

The CLEAR Act is expected to move to the full House of Representatives for a vote in the coming weeks.

The Trust for Public Land is a national nonprofit land conservation organization, which conserves land for people to enjoy as parks, gardens, and other natural places, ensuring livable communities for generations to come. Since it was funded in 1972, TPL has helped protect more than 2.8 million acres in 46 states. TPL depends on the support of individuals, foundations, and corporations.