Recreation Management Rec Report - The Newsletter for Recreation, Sports & Fitness Facility Managers

Feature Story

June 2020

Congress Nears Full, Permanent Funding of LWCF

The U.S. Congress is close to enacting a historic measure that will dramatically expand access to parks and public lands. The U.S. Senate has voted in an overwhelmingly bipartisan fashion to move forward with the Great American Outdoors Act, which will ensure that $900 million in offshore oil and gas fees are invested in local parks and open space, by fully funding the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF). The measure will now go to the House of Representatives, which also is poised to enact this legislation. The White House has already signaled its support.

"The Great American Outdoors Act enjoys strong bipartisan support for providing critical resources to local communities for conservation, parks and recreation," said Kristine Stratton, president and CEO of the National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA). "Now, we urge the House to pass the Great American Outdoor Act and ensure that LWCF becomes fully funded and therefore can effectively serve communities through parks, outdoor recreation, conservation, and health and wellness."

"Equitable access to the outdoors is essential," said Diane Regas, president and CEO of the Trust for Public Land. "Full and permanent funding for LWCF is a huge step forward in providing the resources needed to create outdoor experiences in places they are needed most."

Regas continued, "During this pandemic, we have seen that access to nature is more important than ever. But not everyone has a safe and quality place to get outside during this time. The COVID-19 pandemic has made it clear that in far too many communities, parks and accessible natural areas are a privilege, when they should be a right. Nationwide, 100 million people—including 28 million kids—don't have a park within a 10-minute walk of home. Additionally, state governments report needing $27 billion for local parks and recreation projects to expand access. The health benefits that parks, trails and public lands provide will be essential to our recovery from this crisis, and the long-term sustainability of our communities."

Since the LWCF program was signed into law in 1965, 42,000 state and local park projects have been funded. TPL cited some examples of projects that have been funded through the program:

  • In Atlanta, Ga., the LWCF helped protect dozens of historic homes and businesses for the Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic Site.
  • In Hawaii, the LWCF helped establish and grow the Ala Kahakai National Historic Trail, an ancient footpath that once circled the Big Island.
  • In Connecticut, the LWCF helped revitalize Johnson Oak Park, a once out-of-date green space in Bridgeport. The park now has new opportunities for exercise and play, outdoor classrooms, a picnic grove and a nature walk.
  • In Maine, the LWCF helped expand the Rachel Carson National Wildlife Refuge, which protects a network of salt marshes and shoreline.
  • In Denver, Colo., the LWCF enabled TPL to help purchase land in 2014 to address a shortage of green space in the Montbello neighborhood. TPL is working with the community to build a five-acre nature park with an environmental education center and a rock climbing wall.

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