LWCF uses royalties from environmentally damaging practices (think offshore oil and gas drilling), and puts the money to pro-environment use — funding federal, state and local efforts to protect our environment. These projects include everything from purchasing land for conservation to maintaining local hiking trails and campgrounds, and LWCF has funded at least one project in almost every county of every state across the country.
Despite LWCF’s many successes, we still lose about two football fields worth of nature per minute in this country. We knew that we could do more to protect nature if LWCF wasn’t chronically underfunded. Throughout most of its history, less than half of the money allocated into the fund was appropriated by Congress, leading to a $22 billion shortfall.
It has also long been the responsibility of Congress to periodically reauthorize LWCF’s existence. But, when it failed to do so in September 2018, LWCF was set to expire. Our Conservation team immediately went to work.
Our advocates met with outgoing and then new members of Congress, urging them to prioritize the program, and our national research partner set out to persuade then-Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke to save LWCF. A few months later, a bipartisan deal was struck to reauthorize the program. Our attention quickly shifted to making sure the program would also be fully funded.
For more than a year, our advocates campaigned for legislation to guarantee full and permanent LWCF funding, gathering photo petitions from supporters across the country and partnering with members of Congress and local officials in key states.
In early 2020, that work paid off with the introduction of the Great American Outdoors Act.