The Land & Water Conservation Fund
The Land & Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) is our nation’s most important program to conserve lands and improve outdoor recreation opportunities throughout the United States.
LWCF works with federal, state, and local efforts to invest in:
- Recreational areas, trails, and waterways for paddling, hiking, biking, hunting, and fishing
- Access to national parks, forests, wildlife refuges, and other public lands
- Preserving historic and cultural sites
- Safeguarding rivers, watershed, water supplies, and clean water
- Conserving working forests, farms, and ranches
- Preserving natural areas and wildlife habitat
- Creating and improving state and local parks
- Supporting local economies and jobs through increased outdoor recreation
Minnesota benefits from the LWCF
LWCF has helped protect the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, Voyageurs National Park, Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge, and the Saint Croix National Scenic River, some of Minnesota’s most special places. LWCF also helps ensure recreational access for hunting, fishing, and other outdoor activities.
Minnesota has received approximately $252 million in LWCF funding over the past five decades.
Active outdoor recreation is an important part of the Minnesota economy and the US Census Bureau reports that each year 3.7 million people participate in hunting, fishing, and wildlife watching in Minnesota. And our passion for the outdoors has economic impacts. The Outdoor Industry Association found that active outdoor recreation contributes $16.7 billion annually in consumer spending to Minnesota’s economy, supports 140,000 jobs which generate $4.5 billion in wages and salaries, and produces $1.4 billion annually in state and local tax revenue.
LWCF is not funded by taxpayer dollars, instead a portion of offshore drilling fees are designated to protect important land and water for all Americans. The program is authorized to receive up to $900 million each year—but most of these funds have been diverted elsewhere. LWCF has been around for more than half a century, but in that time more than half its intended funding has been raided for other, non-conservation purposes.
Over the past five decades, LWCF has touched every state and had an important impact in Minnesota.
What's happening now
The program enjoys bipartisan and popular support from every geographic region of the country, in both red and blue states. A recent bipartisan poll found that an overwhelming majority—82%—of voters support continuing to deposit fees from offshore oil and gas drilling into the LWCF.
Congress also supports LWCF. It was permanently reauthorized with sweeping bipartisan support in March 2019. However, LWCF has not been funded. And the current Administration is proposing completely cutting LWCF from the annual budget.
Communities across Minnesota rely on the Land and Water Conservation Fund to preserve and enhance the outdoor spaces we all enjoy. Send a message to your representative and ask them to fully fund LWCF!