Congress Commits Epic Failure in Not Passing Wildly Popular, Widely Supported Land and Water Conservation Fund

Washington, D.C. — The National Wildlife Federation lamented Congress’s failure to act to revive the Land and Water Conservation Fund in the face of broad bipartisan support and popular outcry. Congressional inaction on the landmark conservation program — which invests in local parks, trails, public lands and outdoor spaces in communities in every state — followed widespread agreement from the public and within the halls of Congress before and after it expired in September.

“Americans overwhelmingly support the Land and Water Conservation Fund, which enhances the lives of millions and ensures that wildlife have places to roam. The epic failure of not reauthorizing this critical program — despite overwhelming bipartisan support — reflects the staggering level of dysfunction that pervades the Capitol,” said Collin O’Mara, president and CEO of the National Wildlife Federation. “We urge lawmakers return in January ready to make permanent reauthorization and full funding of the Land and Water Conservation Fund an absolute top priority.”

The Land and Water Conservation Fund uses fees from offshore oil and gas revenues — 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, 1977 and 2015.

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 of the program for future generations.

The National Wildlife Federation commissioned a series of polls that highlighted the public’s overwhelming support for permanently reauthorizing and fully funding the Land and Water Conservation Fund. More than two-dozen communities passed resolutions urging Congress to permanently reauthorize and fully fund the Land and Water Conservation Fund.

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