"The Land and Water Conservation Fund is critically important to the American economy and our way of life. I support legislation that will guarantee full funding for this program. The livelihoods of many Americans and the health of our land and water depend on it."

- Jon Fosgitt, forester
Cold Springs Forestry,




America's Most Important Conservation and Recreation Program Turns 50

Founded in 1964 to conserve America's natural and cultural heritage, LWCF is dedicated to the continued conservation of our iconic national parks, forests, wildlife refuges, wilderness, Civil War battlefields, and important historic sites, as well as developing state and local parks, working forests, connecting urban youth to nature, providing hunting and angling access, helping to protect threatened and endangered species and protecting water quality and drinking water. LWCF, which is funded through off-shore gas royalties and not taxpayer dollars, strives to provide access for all Americans to their public lands. In 2014, we celebrated the 50th anniversary of America's most important conservation program. 

LWCF 50th Anniversary Report
Click here to view the 50th Anniversary Report of LWCF

From National Parks to Local Playgrounds

White Mountains National Forest. Photo by Jerry & Marcy Monkman

Over its  more than 50-year history, the Land and Water Conservation Fund has conserved iconic landscapes in every state and is responsible for more than 40,000 state and local outdoor recreation projects such as playgrounds, urban parks, refuges, and baseball fields. For example, LWCF has contributed to the protection of:

  • Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado
  • Mount Rainier National Park,Washington
  • The Appalachian Trail from Georgia to Maine
  • Sandy Point State Park in Annapolis, Maryland
  • Western Park in Burlington, North Carolina
  • Chicago Spray Pools in Chicago, Illinois
  • MacArthur Park in Los Angeles, California

Preserving America's History

Preserving America’s cultural heritage for generations to come is an important role LWCF plays. LWCF protects Civil War battlefields, presidential sites, landmarks of American history, and other important cultural places including: 

  • Flight 93 Memorial
  • Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic Site
  • Gettysburg National Military Park
  • Captain John Smith's Chesapeake National Historic Trail
  • George Washington's Mount Vernon
  • Women's Rights National Historic Park
  • Nez Perce National Historic Site
And many more across the country.

Protecting America's Hunting and Angling Traditions

Providing public access for hunting, angling, and other outdoor recreation is an important tenet of
LWCF. Across the country, LWCF has helped local residents and visitors alike gain access to special places such as:
  • Cross Mountain Ranch, Colorado - LWCF helped open 920 acres of land on the Yampa River in northwest Colorado for hunting, fishing, and recreation. 
  • Big Rivers Corridor, Kentucky - 4,285 acres of nationally recognized hunting land is now open to the public where before access was restricted.
  • Tenderfoot, Lewis and Clark National Forest, Montana - Over 8,200 acres of land and watershed are now protected for fish & wildlife and open for recreation.
  • Chippewa Flowage forest, Wisconsin - This unique area has been protected as a working Forest land, keeping jobs in the area, and as access for hunting and fishing.
  • Three Dollar Bridge, Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest, Montana- This 1,521-acre conservation easement protects one of the most important wildlife corridors in the Greater Yellowstone region and provides public access to the Madison River for fly fishing.
  • Dakota Grasslands Conservation Area - LWCF helped protect this important piece of the Dakotas, working to improve access for sportsmen, conserve prairie-lands and protect the flyway for duck hunters across the country.

Supporting Local Economies

LWCF and the public lands it protects are critical to an outdoor recreation industry that contributes $646 billion to the U.S. economy. Even during times of economic downturn, outdoor tourism, hunting, and fishing are a robust sector that supports more than 6 million non-exportable American jobs. Protecting these natural and cultural assets and expanding access to our public lands is just smart economic policy.  For example:
  • LWCF has made possible all public access to the Gauley River in southern West Virginia—where some 50,000 people now run the river every year adding millions of dollars to the state’s economy.
  • In Ohio, hunters and anglers spend $2.75 billion in a year and support more than 46,000 jobs—and in a state where private land prevails, LWCF has provided public hunting and fishing access to rivers like the Little Miami and along the Great Lakes at Ottawa NWR.
  • At least 68% of Oregon residents participate in outdoor recreation each year, combined with visitors, outdoor recreation generates $12.8 billion in consumer spending and supports over 140,000 jobs.

LWCF's Future

In 2014, our nation marked the 50th Anniversary of this landmark conservation milestone – an occasion for celebration – and a critical time in the future of LWCF and our public lands. Chronically underfunded, LWCF has received full funding just twice in the fund’s more than 50 year history. Instead of the full $900 million that was supposed to be investing in our local communities every year, LWCF usually receives just 1/3 of the intended funds. For Fiscal Year 2016, it was a huge victory just to get that number bumped up to half.
It LWCF was fully funded, it could help protect and conserve more places around the country for people and wildlife as well as continue to support state and local economies. Just as critically, LWCF must be permanently reauthorized. Private landowners who want to permanently conserve their land for future generations need the assurance that this program isn’t going to expire. Our communities need to develop plans for their future. Our citizens need to know that the nation will continue to invest in local parks and open spaces. 
If Congress does not act, this vital program could expire and leave our wild places vulnerable to development, damage our vital outdoor recreation economy, and fail to make needed investments to expand access to public lands.
The LWCF Coalition, an umbrella group of more than 1,000 state and local land owners, small businesses, ranchers, sportsmen, veterans, outdoor recreationists and conservation organizations, is united in its advocacy to permanently authorize and fully fund the Land and Water Conservation Fund so it can continue to serve every American no matter where they live for future generations.