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Restoring the Land and Water Conservation Fund Must Be a Top Priority in Lame Duck Session

Expiration of the Land and Water Conservation Fund a ‘Colossal Failure’

WASHINGTON, D.C.  — Americans expect Congress to swiftly and permanently reauthorize and fully fund the Land and Water Conservation Fund during the lame duck session of Congress, Collin O’Mara president and CEO of the National Wildlife Federation said today. The landmark program, which secures our public lands, outdoor recreation economy and wildlife heritage, expired at the end of September — resulting in a loss of millions in revenue for the protection of local parks, trails and outdoor spaces.

“The Land and Water Conservation Fund is America’s most successful land conservation program. Period. Over the past 54 years, it has helped connect millions of Americans with unrivaled outdoor experiences and conserved essential wildlife habitat across the nation. The September expiration of the Land and Water Conservation Fund was a colossal failure — and one costing local land conservation efforts $2.5 million a day — but Congress has a small, but critical, window to right this wrong when it reconvenes this week,” said Collin O’Mara, president and CEO of the National Wildlife Federation. “We urge Congress to make permanently reauthorizing and fully funding the Land and Water Conservation Fund an absolute top priority to ensure this essential bipartisan program endures for future generations.”

The National Wildlife Federation estimates, based on the most recent data on offshore drilling receipts and the most recent production data, that Congress’s failure to reauthorize and fully fund the program has meant roughly $2.5 million per day not flowing into the Land and Water Conservation Fund. 

The Land and Water Conservation Fund uses fees from offshore oil and gas development — at no cost to taxpayers — to invest in urban parks, walking and biking trails, wildlife habitat, 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. It also worked with subsequent Congresses to increase the program’s funding and improve its programmatic impact in 1968, 1970 and 1977.

This year, 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. The National Wildlife Federation has been working across the nation with its affiliates and partners to underscore the importance of the Land and Water Conservation Fund, including a national ad campaign and events in local communities to ensure protection for future generations.


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