Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell today announced that $40.03 million is being made available in allocations from the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) and will be distributed to all 50 States, the Territories, and the District of Columbia for state-identified outdoor recreation projects. LWCF state grant funds are awarded through Federal matching grants that leverage public and private investment in America's state and local public outdoor recreation projects.
Secretary Jewell also underscored the importance of President Obama's proposal to require mandatory, full funding of the program by 2015.
"For nearly half a century, the Land and Water Conservation Fund has used funds derived from energy development in federal waters to support conservation and recreation projects that create jobs, support local economies, and increase outdoor recreational opportunities in every county across the country," said Jewell. "This is why President Obama is asking Congress to fully appropriate the money in this fund to be used for the purpose for which it is being collected, so we can help create outstanding outdoor spaces for all people from all backgrounds to enjoy sports and recreation close to home."
The LWCF was established by Congress in 1964 to ensure access to outdoor recreation resources for present and future generations, and to provide money to federal, state and local governments to purchase land, water and wetlands for the benefit of all Americans. The primary source of revenue for the Land and Water Conservation Fund is from Federal oil and gas leases on the Outer Continental Shelf.
The funds enable State and local governments to establish everything from baseball fields to community green spaces; to provide public access to rivers, lakes and other water resources; and to conserve natural landscapes for public outdoor recreation use and enjoyment.
Only once in the past 49 years has Congress appropriated LWCF funding at the full authorized level of $900 million. President Obama's 2014 budget request includes a legislative proposal to establish dedicated mandatory funding for LWCF programs, with full funding at $900 million beginning in 2015.
"The Land and Water Conservation Fund is the only federal funding source solely dedicated to establishing local public parks, conservation and recreation areas, and it has been a resounding success - benefiting all citizens - putting back into our lands what we have extracted from our federal waters" Jewell said. "The program not only improves our quality of life but also benefits our economy through activities like hunting, hiking, fishing, team sports, camping, bird watching and tourism. As we near the 50th anniversary of the passage of the Land and Water Conservation Fund, we have an opportunity to develop a more vibrant program that will help meet the needs of the 21st century."
In addition to state grants, the LWCF funds other programs that support a strong national outdoor recreation and conservation economy, including programs that: strengthen conservation and recreation in national parks, forests and refuges; fund cooperative forest conservation in partnership with states and private landowners; and enable voluntary conservation activities on working farms, ranches and forests to protect wildlife, watersheds, and rural livelihoods.
Outdoor recreation creates jobs -- particularly in rural communities -- and helps generate economic opportunities. In FY 2012, national parks, national wildlife refuges and other lands managed by the Interior Department hosted an estimated 417 million visits, contributing $45 billion to the economies of local communities and supporting 372,000 jobs.
Since the inception of the Fund, nearly $4 billion have been made available to State and local governments and well over 40,000 projects have been funded throughout the nation. For more information, please visit www.nps.gov/lwcf.
The allocation for the State and Local Assistance Grant (State-side) program is determined based on a formula set in the LWCF Act and the Gulf of Mexico Energy Security Act. The total amount available to allocate to States in 2013 was reduced by $2.1 million due to the sequester required by the Budget Control Act of 2011.