50+ Years of Public Lands Conservation
In 2015, the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF), celebrated its 50th anniversary and remains one of the best tools we have for creating parks and public lands across America. This fund takes a portion of revenues from offshore oil drilling and uses that money to pay for local, state, and national parks, as well as other public lands such as forests, shorelines, historic sites, and wildlife refuges. It's recently been re-authorized for three more years, including an impressive $450 million for this fiscal year.
The legacy of the Land and Water Conservation Fund is outstanding — expanding Americans’ access to spectacular natural landmarks as well as parks and trails near home. Since 1965, this fund has helped to protect over 3 million acres of land in every state and territory. Every year, over 500 million people visit these places, dramatically boosting local economies.
Land trusts have been a big part of this success story. LWCF can encourage land trusts to make the first move, acquiring special places and then working with government agencies to turn them into public lands.
Potential for Land Trusts
Do you have a vision of protecting an extraordinary place in your community as a park, preserve, greenway or other public place? That’s what the Land and Water Conservation Fund is for — check it out!
As the United States population grows and becomes more urban, we need to keep public lands a national priority. Already, too many people lack access to nature, with its abundant benefits for health, education and quality of life. To meet people’s needs for nature, the Land Trust Alliance is committed to maintaining the Land and Water Conservation Fund and expanding its potential.
We have two main goals: First, we want to see the money that goes into the fund fully dedicated to LWCF projects. Second, we want to make the funds available for land trusts to purchase easements and land, in addition to government agencies. Since land trusts can leverage landowner donations and other funding sources, this would allow the fund to achieve greater land conservation.