If you have ever been awed by the bison herds of Yellowstone, humbled by the majesty of the Grand Canyon, reveled in the beauty of Rocky Mountain National Park, been enchanted by New Mexico’s Rio Grande del Norte and Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monuments or wondered at the stunning beauty and biodiversity of the Florida everglades then you are a beneficiary of the Land and Water Conservation Fund.
Congress created the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) in 1964 to help improve the health and vitality of ALL Americans by preserving, developing and ensuring access to outdoor recreation. Over the past half century, the Land and Water Conservation Fund has provided $18 billion dollars to support America’s national parks and monuments, create access to public lands, restore wildlife habitat and fund local parks and playgrounds, ball fields and walking trails in nearly every community in the United States. Thanks to programs like LWCF and conservation leaders who believed in the value of protecting wild lands and wildlife, Americans now have the world’s most extensive network of open spaces to hike, camp, fish, swim, recreate or as Rachel Carson said, simply “contemplate the beauty of earth.”
In addition to supporting America’s most iconic public lands, the Fund has
been essential in preserving America’s most important historical and cultural sites, including, among others, the Martin Luther King. Jr. National Historical Park, the Nez Pearce Historical Site, and El Camino Real Tierra de Adentro. The fund has helped support healing in our nation’s veterans as well as supported the preservation and creation of various memorials including the Flight 93 memorial. In 2014, the Fund launched the Outdoor Recreation Legacy Program connecting economically disadvantaged communities with the outdoors so as to promote active outdoor lifestyles for children and families. LWCF has been vital in helping get kids outdoors has been proven to make them smarter, happier and healthier.
Unfortunately, this past September Congress let the Land and Water Conservation Fund expire meaning that over $300 million dollars so far have been diverted away from conservation, improving access to public lands, supporting critical wildlife habitat and promoting outdoor recreation in our local communities. Failure to permanently reauthorize and fully fund the Land and Water Conservation Fund will also negatively impact local communities, jobs and the larger recreation economy.
Recognizing the important impact LWCF has on everything from National parks to local playgrounds, faith communities across the country have been working with local elected officials to pass resolutions supporting LWCF. Spiritual leaders from Earth Keepers have also been active in the press calling on congress to permanently reauthorize and fully fund LWCF.