In 2019, Conservation Minnesota played a crucial role, alongside our national partners, in helping to permanently reauthorize the Land & Water Conservation Fund (LWCF). As a result, this important national funding source was permanently reauthorized and fully funded at $900 million per year.
LWCF works with state and local efforts to invest in trails, waterways, improved access to parks and outdoor recreation, enhancing existing parks, and preserving historic and cultural sites, among other things. $252 million has already gone to benefit Minnesota since the creation of LWCF over 50 years ago. Past LWCF funding has been used in every Minnesota county and helped protect and improve the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, Voyageurs National Park, Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge, and the Saint Croix National Scenic River.
In 2021, Secretary of the Interior, Deb Haaland, announced that $150 million of LWCF will be distributed by the National Park Service to urban communities, who are too often left out of important conservation funding, through the Outdoor Recreation Legacy Partnership (ORLP) grant program. A bill in Congress called the Outdoors For All Act would make these one-time grants a permanent fixture in land and water conservation funding. The money will help to significantly increase access to parks and recreation opportunities in underserved communities, and enhance, update, and maintain existing parks and green space in urban areas with more than 30,000 people.
On May 6th, 2022, Secretary Haaland visited St. Paul’s Midway Peace Park to announce that $61 million of ORLP grants will be distributed this year to 26 metro areas across the country with three Minnesota parks slated to receive $9 million each. It’s exciting to see these investments coming home and making an impact in Rochester, Minneapolis, and St. Paul.
Conservation Minnesota will continue to watch the Outdoors For All Act and keep our members posted on opportunities to help pass this important legislation.