After months of research, the Surfrider Foundation released a report detailing how the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) has helped to protect and maintain special coastal areas for over 50 years.
Often dubbed “America’s best conservation program,” the LWCF is based on a simple concept: take revenues from offshore oil and gas production and use the funds to protect parks, wildlife refuges, and other public lands and waters to conserve sensitive habitat and improve recreational opportunities across the U.S. The program has been widely successful, and was reauthorized by Congress in 2019 with strong bipartisan support.
Unfortunately, Congress has failed to appropriately fund the LWCF in recent years. While the LWCF fund receives $900 million in annual royalties, Congress diverts much of this funding to uses other than conserving our most important lands and waters. In doing so, Congress is breaking its own promise to the American people.
Because the LWCF is such an important conservation program, the Surfrider Foundation compiled this report to showcase specific coastal areas that have been protected by the LWCF and explain how the LWCF will be an invaluable tool in the future to deal with climate change impacts.
Using zero taxpayer dollars, the LWCF has been instrumental in preserving a diverse range of public lands and helping to fuel local economies. In fact, for every $1 invested in land acquisition through the LWCF, there is a return of $4 in economic value to local communities.
The wisdom of setting aside funding to protect natural resources and establish recreation opportunities has paid dividends over the past 50 years. Congress must continue America’s deep conservation legacy of creating recreational opportunities and protecting special places by fully and permanently funding the LWCF.
It is Surfrider’s hope that this report will call attention to the need for Congress to permanently fund this exceptional conservation program. In addition to reviewing the report, Surfrider is encouraging its supporters to contact Congress members and urge them to pass legislation that full permanent funding for the Land and Water Conservation Fund in order to maintain America’s world-class conservation legacy of protecting special places and natural resources.