Tuesday, April 2, 2019

What’s next for America’s most important parks program?

Medium.com - Full Article

Key changes could help the Land and Water Conservation Fund remain effective in the 21st century

Jesse Prentice-Dunn
April 1 2019

Since 1964, the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) has helped protect critical landscapes within our national parks and increase recreational access to public lands across the country. Congress permanently renewed this key program in a sweeping bipartisan public lands bill this year, but did not provide any promise of funding — leaving the program subject to the whims of Congress each year. Now that LWCF will be around for the foreseeable future, what’s next for America’s most important parks program?

For decades, the Land and Water Conservation Fund has garnered strong support from both parties in Congress, as well as states and local stakeholders across the country. The program receives revenues from offshore drilling, then uses the proceeds to conserve and increase access to our parks and public lands, routinely partnering with cities and states to meet their conservation needs. In many instances, LWCF has been used to purchase islands of private lands, called “inholdings,” within our national parks from willing sellers at fair market value, protecting those critical landscapes from development. An analysis by the Center for Western Priorities found that from 2014 to 2017, the LWCF was used to complete at least 293 projects across 42 states, conserving more than 431,000 acres...

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