On February 12th, the United States Senate voted 92 to 8 to pass legislation that included permanent authorization of the Land and Water Conservation Fund ( LWCF). The LWCF, which is supported by a share of the income the federal government receives from off-shore oil and other leases, is the principal source of federal funds for land acquisition for parks and reserves as well as for recreational developments. It had been in place for more than fifty years before it was allowed to expire last fall. The Senate vote for authorization was a top priority for the AMC and a host of other conservation and outdoor recreation organizations. The funding can be used at the federal, state, or local levels.
The next step in the process is for the House of Representatives to approve the measure, which appears near certain considering the very broad support the measure has in the House. Indications are that the President will sign the measure when it reaches his desk.
While authorization represents major progress, it takes an appropriation to make the funds available. The LWCF had been authorized at $900 million for years, but the funds actually appropriated each year have averaged less than half of that, so stand by to help in a major push for LWCF dedicated funding legislation, so that we ensure the full amount that goes into the fund is spent on conservation.