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Expiring Land and Water Conservation Fund a ‘Stunning’ Failure

Program Invests in Parks, Trails Central to Our Wildlife Heritage, Public Lands

WASHINGTON, DC — Congress’s inability to permanently reauthorize and fully fund the Land and Water Conservation Fund, one of the United States’ most successful and popular conservation programs, is a “stunning failure,” the National Wildlife Federation’s President and CEO Collin O’Mara said today. O’Mara said Congress should quickly reverse course and revive the critical 1960s-era conservation program.

“The Land and Water Conservation Fund is the most successful land conservation program in our nation’s history. Congress’s inability to prevent its expiration is a stunning failure and a betrayal of more than a half century of broad bipartisan support,” O’Mara said. “America’s wildlife heritage, outdoor recreation opportunities and public lands are the envy of the world and drive our $887 billion recreation economy.

“President Johnson said, in signing the Land and Water Conservation Fund into law following its near unanimous passage, ‘True leadership must provide for the next decade and not merely the next day.’ We call upon Congress to heed these sage words and take bold action to ensure that this critical conservation program does not fall victim to gridlock in Washington.”

The Land and Water Conservation Fund uses fees from offshore oil and gas development — at no cost to taxpayers — to invest in urban parks and sports fields, walking and biking trails, historic sites, national parks and other open spaces. The National Wildlife Federation worked closely with Interior Secretary Stewart Udall, Senator Clinton Anderson and Representative Wayne Aspinall to help secure initial passage in 1964 and worked with subsequent Congresses to increase the program’s funding and improve its programmatic impact in 1968, 1970 and 1977.

For the past four years, the National Wildlife Federation has helped lead the charge to permanently reauthorize and fully fund the program, including issuing reports this year on how it supports hunters and anglers as well as families’ access to outdoor recreation.

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