Investing in Our Public Lands: The President’s Proposal to Fully Fund the Land and Water Conservation Fund

Over 50 years ago, a visionary Congress established an innovative program to bring communities together to invest in open spaces and recreational opportunities that are an essential part of our nation’s heritage and economy. Since then, the highly successful Land and Water Conservation Fund has helped to protect working forests and ranches, preserve our public lands – parks, refuges, forests, rivers, lakes and wildlife habitats – and provide access to outdoor recreation across the nation for use and enjoyment by all Americans.

President Obama is committed to passing on America’s public lands and waters to future generations in better shape than we found them. That’s why he is proposing full funding for the Land and Water Conservation Fund in the Fiscal Year 2017 budget, and pursuing permanent authorization in annual mandatory funding for the Fund’s programs beginning in 2018.

In 2017, the budget will invest $900 million in conservation and recreation projects – a portion of the revenues from offshore oil and gas drilling that are deposited in the fund each year – through a combination of discretionary ($475 million) and mandatory ($425 million) funding. This culminates a multi-year strategy leading to full permanent funding for the Fund in 2018.

These investments – using voluntary conservation tools like easements and purchases from willing sellers – respond to local communities’ priorities. They will conserve public lands in or near national parks, refuges, and forests, including landscapes identified for collaborative, strategic conservation; increase access for hunting and fishing; protect historic battlefields; and provide grants to states for close-to-home recreation and conservation projects on non-federal lands.

This is great news for all Americans – from hunters and anglers, to outdoor enthusiasts and history buffs, to communities large and small across the nation who benefit from the Land and Water Conservation Fund investments. In fact, the program has supported more than 42,000 national, state and local parks and outdoor recreation projects in all 50 states.

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