April 10, 2019
WASHINGTON, D.C. - U.S. Senators Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Angus King (I-Maine) joined a bipartisan group of Senators in introducing the Land and Water Conservation Fund Permanent Funding Act, legislation to permanently fund the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) at a level of $900 million per year. This legislation comes after the John D. Dingell, Jr. Conservation, Management, and Recreation Act was enacted into law last month (Public Law 116-9), which permanently authorized the LWCF, with Senators Collins and King’s strong support.
“We have long supported LWCF, which has helped to ensure that everyone can enjoy the beauty of natural resources in Maine and across the country,” said Senators Collins and King in a joint statement. “This bill would provide full funding for our country’s most important and successful conservation program and build on our bipartisan success of permanently reauthorizing LWCF. We encourage our colleagues to join us in supporting this legislation, which would create the lasting stability that states, local communities, and conservation partners need to plan ahead.”
Though the LWCF was permanently authorized when the lands package was signed into law last month, expenditures from the LWCF continue to be subject to federal appropriations. The Land and Water Conservation Fund Permanent Funding Act would remove the requirement that the LWCF funds must be appropriated. Instead for the first time, the bill makes $900 million available each year without needing to be appropriated. In the event the amounts appropriated from the fund each year do not reach $900 million, additional funds are credited into the LWCF from federal offshore oil and gas receipts, but amounts from the fund can only be spent if appropriated.
The LWCF provides matching grants to states and localities for investments in outdoor recreation facilities, such as parks and ballfields, and helps protect threatened battlefield sites. The LWCF funds important projects that protect drinking water resources, sensitive habitat for fish and wildlife, and private forestland. The fund also provides funding for additions to national parks, national wildlife refuges, national forests and other federal public lands used for outdoor recreation and habitat preservation.
"Maine Conservation Voters is very grateful to Senators Collins and King for their long standing leadership on LWCF and for sponsoring legislation to permanently fund it,” said Beth Ahearn, Director of Government Affairs, Maine Conservation Voters. “While we celebrated the permanent authorization of LWCF in March, Congress still has work to do: authorizing ongoing and stable funding for important conservation and recreation projects in Maine and across the country. We all benefit from LWCF and hope the Senate follows the lead of Senators Collins and King."
“The Land and Water Conservation Fund is a vital program for Maine and we thank Senator Collins and Senator King for joining a bipartisan group of Senators to introduce permanent, dedicated funding of LWCF,” said Emmie Theberge, Federal Director at the Natural Resources Council of Maine. “LWCF has helped protect some of Maine’s most treasured landscapes as well as supported local projects including ballfields, trails, recreation sites, and historic sites around the state. This is good news for Maine and we thank Senator Collins and Senator King for being longtime champions of this important conservation program.”
In addition to Senators Collins and King, the legislation is supported by Senators Joe Manchin (D-W. Va.), Cory Gardner (R-Colo.), Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), Richard Burr (R-N.C.), Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), Jon Tester (D-Mont.), Steve Daines (R-Mont.), Tom Udall (D-N.M.), Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), Lindsay Graham (R-S.C.), and Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.).