http://www.nasorlo.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/04/site_header_logoShort.png 0 0 Doug Eiken http://www.nasorlo.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/04/site_header_logoShort.png Doug Eiken2017-08-28 18:43:392017-09-13 09:59:26Congress Considering Reforms to Conservation and Recreation Funding
Article by Jeff Stockdale, director of legislative affairs, Council of State Governments E Newsletter August 2017.
In 1964, Congress created the Land and Water Conservation Fund, or LWCF, “to assist the States and Federal agencies in meeting present and future outdoor recreation demands and needs of the American people.” Since the program’s inception, this powerful conservation tool has helped preserve thousands of acres across all 50 states.
The two main purposes of the law are to facilitate “active participation” in outdoor recreation and to “strengthen the health and vitality of the citizens of the United States.” To achieve these goals, the law provides funds for federal land acquisition and for federal assistance to states generally related to outdoor recreation.
The LWCF is authorized at $900 million annually through Sept. 30, 2018, and accumulates the majority of its revenues from royalties paid by energy companies drilling for oil and gas on the Outer Continental Shelf. However, Congress has consistently appropriated far less to LWCF than the $900 million in royalties it is authorized to receive.
The federal assistance to states comes in the form of grants and is known as the Stateside Program. The grants can be used for recreation planning, acquisition of lands and waters, and facility development. The secretary of the interior apportions the appropriations for state grants based on a formula included in the fund’s authorization. The formula calls for a portion of the appropriation to be divided equally among the states with the remaining appropriation apportioned based on need, as determined by the secretary. The fiscal year 2015 allocations can be found here.
Through Sept. 30, 2013, state and local governments received 42,216 grants for outdoor recreation projects, including 7,680 grants for acquisition, 27,382 grants for developing recreation facilities, 3,190 grants for redeveloping older recreational facilities, 3,259 grants for a combination of these activities, and 705 state planning grants for studies of recreation potential, need and opportunity.
LWCF is an extremely popular program and has always received broad, bipartisan support. This spring, a coalition of more than 200 House Republicans and Democrats sent a letter to the chairman and ranking member of the Interior, Environment and Related Agencies Appropriations Subcommittee urging them “to allocate robust funding to this valuable, time-tested program.”
The LWCF’s authorization expired in 2015 before Congress included a three-year reauthorization through Sept. 30, 2018, as part of the fiscal year 2016 omnibus spending package. With the program’s sunset nearing, competing proposals have been introduced in the House and Senate to both reauthorize and reform the LWCF. Those bills are below:
S. 896 – A bill to permanently reauthorize the Land and Water Conservation Fund – Sponsored by Sen. Richard Burr of North Carolina
S. 569 – Land and Water Conservation Authorization and Funding Act – Sponsored by Sen. Maria Cantwell of Washington
H.R. 502– To permanently reauthorize the Land and Water Conservation Fund – Sponsored by Rep. Raul Grijalva of Arizona
H.R. 2863 – Land and National Park Deferred Maintenance Act “LAND Act” – Sponsored by Rep. Mike Simpson of Idaho
S. 1460 – Energy and Natural Resources Act of 2017 – Sponsored by Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska