New Interactive Map Showcases Iconic National Parks, Trails & Other Public Outdoor Spaces Funded by the Land & Water Conservation Fund
Today, the Trust for Public Land, in collaboration with LWCF Coalition partners, launched the first-ever interactive map showcasing the tremendous impact of the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF), the nation’s most important program to create and develop parks, trails and outdoor recreation areas, conserve nature and protect cultural sites, across its 55 year history. LWCF has funded projects in nearly every county in the nation, and in every U.S. state and territory — from Yellowstone National Park and the Appalachian Trail to ballfields and boat launches across the nation.
The map allows users to zoom in on their own neighborhood and find their favorite local park or outdoor recreation destination and learn more about how LWCF impacted their access to the outdoors close to home. Or they can take a virtual trip across the country to see how LWCF protected some of America’s most iconic national parks and historic sites.
SEE THE MAP HERE: https://lwcf.tplgis.org/mappast/
Last August, the Great American Outdoors Act, which permanently funds the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) at $900 million annually, was signed into law with broad, bipartisan support.
“The Land and Water Conservation Fund is the cornerstone of conservation in America, and the key to ensuring all people living in America have equitable access to the great outdoors” said Diane Regas, President and CEO of the Trust for Public Land. “Full and permanent funding for the LWCF is a huge step forward in providing the resources needed to create outdoor experiences in places they are needed most, and with the health benefits that parks, trails and public lands provide our communities, we are thrilled to launch a tool that will help people get outside and explore, no matter their area code.”
“Throughout its 57-year history, the Land and Water Conservation Fund has provided valuable resources to communities across the United States. The National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA) is pleased to assist in the creation of this interactive map, which shows the far-reaching scope of LWCF and the positive impact it has had in local parks across the country,” said Elvis Cordova, NRPA’s vice president of public policy and advocacy. “NRPA’s park and recreation professional members care for many of the lands highlighted in the interactive LWCF map. We are confident that this new resource will help inspire new projects that will increase local access to quality parks and outdoor recreation spaces for many new communities across the country.”
“We have long known the incredible impact of LWCF but with this new map we can now visualize each project over the 56 year history of the program. The impact of this map will be tremendous for sharing and showing the amazing stories of LWCF projects that touch diverse communities in every corner of the country,” said Lesley Kane-Szynal, Chair of the LWCF Coalition and Director of Outdoors America. “For more than five decades, LWCF has safeguarded our country’s most iconic landscapes, provided close to home recreation and sportsmen access, protected coastlines and drinking water, and contributed billions of dollars to the economy. Now that LWCF is fully funded, local communities will have even more resources to meet their outdoor recreation needs and protect the best of America.”
The map highlights projects such as:
- Appalachian Trail – Georgia to Maine: The Appalachian National Scenic Trail (AT) — the “granddaddy” of the National Trails System — would not exist as it does today without LWCF funding. LWCF investments have protected the trail’s footpath, scenic views and connection points to other trails and public lands. To date, over $250 million of LWCF funds have helped protect nearly 200,000 acres along the 2,193 mile trail, creating a tapestry of National Park Service, US Forest Service, state, local and private lands that are permanently protected from Maine to Georgia. A centerpiece of conservation efforts throughout the East, the trail connects large tracts of forests, wilderness and more developed parkland and traverses 14 states, 88 counties, 75 public land units and has millions of visitors each year. Management and maintenance of the trail is supported by a vast network of volunteers, providing substantial cost savings to federal agencies. PHOTO, Bald Mountain Pond, Maine HERE, Credit: Jerry and Marcy Monkman
- Southern California/Los Angeles metro region: Over its 55+ year history, almost $750 million in LWCF funding at the federal, state and local level has gone to California’s densely populated southern counties – Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Diego and Ventura, home to nearly 20 million residents and millions more annual visitors. Across this geography, LWCF funding has helped ensure neighborhood, regional and remote backcountry access to nature and the outdoors and protected special natural resource and recreation areas like Joshua Tree National Park, the greater Mojave Desert national monument and preserve, the Santa Monica, San Gabriel and San Bernardino mountains, and the San Diego River, thus supporting the regional tourism economy of southern California and protecting critical fish and wildlife habitat and water resources. PHOTO, L.A. – Runyon Canyon State park HERE, Photo credit: Annie Bang
- Phoenix and Tucson Metro Area Parks, Arizona – Over 55 years, LWCF has invested over $40 million in state, regional and local parks in the Phoenix and Tucson metropolitan areas, ensuring that residents of these densely populated areas have access to parks, recreation facilities and close to home recreation opportunities. When combined with the nearly $46 million in LWCF investments at Saguaro National Park and additional LWCF funding at the adjacent Tonto and Coronado National Forests, LWCF has ensured that Arizonans living in these dense population centers – and thousands of annual visitors – have easy access to the great outdoors. PHOTO, Saguaro National Park, Tucson HERE, Credit: Josh Schachter
- Everglades Ecosystem, Florida – Eight million people and countless species of animals call the Everglades ecosystem home — challenging the resources of this iconic natural system that supplies water for the residents of south Florida. Over $500 million of LWCF investments over many years have protected the fragile and important Everglades ecosystem, from its headwaters in the ranchlands north of the park to its outflow in Florida Bay. The bulk of LWCF funds have gone to Everglades National Park, one of the most popular parks in the national park system and one of its crown jewels. Almost one million visitors experience the wonders of the Everglades every year. In addition to $131 million of LWCF used by the National Park Service to protect key Everglades resources in the park, over $200 million in LWCF funding has supported the Florida Everglades Restoration Project, a massive undertaking by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and other stakeholders to restore the natural flow of water in the Everglades ecosystem. Restoring this piece of America’s heritage has provided crucial protection to wildlife, increased access to outdoor recreation, safeguarded community character and resources by reducing sprawl, and helped local economies through increased tourism revenues. PHOTO HERE, Credit: NPS
The Trust for Public Land also says LWCF is a locally-driven critical tool for communities working collaboratively together which will help achieve the Biden-Harris administration’s goal of conserving 30 percent of our lands, waters, and ocean by 2030 — a commitment that is widely supported by Americans, with four out of five voters expressing support.
The project is a collaborative effort that brought together a broad set of partners to tell the story of the Land and Water Conservation Fund’s impact for the first time:
“From boat launches to park and trail development, LWCF projects help build resilient and diversified economies, increase quality of life, and improve public health outcomes for under-resourced communities,” said Jessica Turner, executive director of Outdoor Recreation Roundtable. “It is amazing to see all the LWCF projects already completed and the visual and actual impact will be even greater now that the program is fully funded. We are thrilled to see Outdoor Recreation Roundtable’s future priority projects included with this map so we will be able to clearly illustrate these benefits for policymakers and support more projects in rural areas and communities without quality access to the outdoors.”
“Hunters and anglers rely on LWCF-funded projects to access quality opportunities on our public lands and waters. Many of the projects highlighted on the map – from boat launches to lands and waters for fish and wildlife habitat and the acquisition of private land inholdings – demonstrate the incredible impact LWCF has had on communities across the nation,” said John Gale, Backcountry Hunters & Anglers Conservation Director.
“The Stateside Assistance Program – a Land and Water Conservation Funded program – creates park and outdoor recreation places at the local level. City, town, county and state parks alike give people ready access to outdoor experiences where they live,” said Douglas Eiken, Executive Director of the National Association of State Outdoor Recreation Liaison Officers (NASORLO). “NASORLO’s Governor-appointed members are the LWCF stewards in states and territories guiding grants to meet the public’s greatest needs and assuring those places remain in the public domain. The map tool launched today was needed for decades to locate and visualize the sum of close to home parks impacted by the Stateside Program. Now today, modern mapping tools allow us to demonstrate the far-reaching legacy of public park and conservation resources. It is a valuable platform promoting healthy lifestyle choices, guiding future investments, and stewarding the perpetual protection of the places in which we are already invested.”
“The LWCF digital map is so exceptional as it helps the community, partners, public agencies and elected officials see the broad benefits across the country of the Land and Water Conservation Fund,” said Kelly Reed, Senior Vice President of Government Relations at The Conservation Fund. “You may not realize that the park down the street or the forest that filters your drinking water have been protected or improved thanks to the LWCF, but now this map helps create a personal connection with this essential conservation tool that last year the U.S. Congress fully and permanently funded. It’s a powerful tool.”
“The Land and Water Conservation Fund is essential to the country’s ambitious conservation and recreation goals. Its full, permanent funding last year thanks to the Great American Outdoors Act will ensure the nation benefits from its best conservation tool for generations to come. This map demonstrates the breadth of LWCF’s impact in every corner of the United States and highlights an over half-century legacy of conserving important landscapes, expanding outdoor recreation opportunities and driving local economies,” said Tom Cors, director of government relations for lands at The Nature Conservancy. “We hope this map will help Americans discover the LWCF lands and waters in their own backyards and beyond.”
“Now, perhaps more than ever, Americans are showing how essential it is to be able to access public land and water for both physical and mental health,” said John Judge, President and CEO of the Appalachian Mountain Club. “AMC’s mission to connect people with the outdoors depends upon bedrock conservation programs like the Land and Water Conservation Fund to help us, alongside our members, volunteers, and community partners, protect the places we love. This map is such an exciting resource to show the full impact of LWCF and why we have fought so hard to ensure it is fully and permanently funded. We hope everyone will use it, not just to be able to reach a park, forest, or trail near them to enjoy everything the outdoors has to offer, but also to see the incredible impact of grassroots advocacy for conservation. This map shows how much success is possible if we work together to address the nature crisis.”
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The Trust for Public Land creates parks and protects land for people, ensuring healthy, livable communities for generations to come. Millions of people live within a 10-minute walk of a Trust for Public Land park, garden or natural area, and millions more visit these sites every year. To support The Trust for Public Land and share why nature matters to you, visit www.tpl.org.