Created by Congress over 50 years ago, the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) has protected birds and the places they need, local parks and places for recreation, and areas of cultural significance in every state. The fund has helped conserve millions of acres of public lands in all 50 states. From majestic national parks like Rocky Mountain, Grand Canyon, and the Great Smoky Mountains to Important Bird Areas like California’s Point Reyes National Sea Shore and the southern Sierras, LWCF has long enjoyed bipartisan support because Americans nationwide reap its benefits.
The LWCF is a simple concept: send revenues from offshore oil and gas development back to the public to restore and protect a wide array of habitat across our nation. This should be a great deal for American taxpayers. Unfortunately, Congress typically breaks its promise each year by diverting over half of the $900 million in funding to uses other than efforts to protect our most precious lands and waters. Despite this, LWCF has continued to conserve places we care about like the Golden-winged Warbler habitat in North Carolina and wintering areas for Bald Eagles in Washington.
In the coming weeks, we expect more budget details to emerge from President Donald Trump and leaders in the House and Senate. While we are monitoring potential funding cuts to several conservation programs vital to birds, we are especially concerned about any effort to divert more funds from LWCF. There are even some in Congress who want to dismantle the entire program. These efforts would be detrimental to a growing backlog of federal land conservation projects—including places like the Florida Everglades—and state and local governments’ plans to use LWCF funding for community parks and public recreation.
We believe there is a strong, bipartisan and fiscally-sound case to be made for why Congress should ensure robust funding of LWCF instead of raiding those funds or, worse, ending the program. This proven, decades-old fund is great for taxpayers, great for communities across the nation, and great for birds.
Audubon has begun advocating with your representatives in Congress on LWCF funding for the next fiscal year. Recently, we helped convinced over 200 Members of Congress—including a record number of Republicans— to publicly support strong LWCF funding. But we must keep up the pressure because we are likely months away from Congress voting on what happens to LWCF funding. You have a powerful voice in protecting this outstanding conservation tool, and it is important your Congressman and Senators hear directly from you now.