Partnership for the National Trails System Land and Water Conservation Fund Statement


A Battle to Save the LWCF  

For 50 years, until Congress let it expire on September 30th, the Land & Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) has allowed for the purchase of critical lands for conservation and the development of parks, trails, and other outdoor recreation facilities in all 50 states and nearly every county in America.


While bipartisan efforts are underway in the House and Senate to simply reauthorize this extremely successful conservation program—Representative Rob Bishop, R-Utah, Chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee, is on a mission to “reform” the Land and Water Conservation Fund by radically changing its purpose and the projects and programs it would fund.

Created to invest a portion of the revenue from offshore drilling leases towards protecting parks, forests, wildlife refuges, public lands, and other community spaces— the $900 million LWCF has been a crucial tool for helping to close gaps and preserve critical historic and scenic places within our National Trails System. In 2015 alone, over $25 million LWCF dollars were appropriated by Congress to buy land along 11 of our National Scenic and Historic Trails. (Right: National Park Service map of the 30 National Scenic and Historic Trails)

Bishop let the widely supported LWCF expire in September of 2015 and has steadfastly refused to allow a vote in his committee on H.R. 1814, a bipartisan bill with nearly 200 co-sponsors to reauthorize the program. His reasoning? He claimed the LWCF needed reform. Amongst the reforms he suggests include:

  • An extension of no more than seven years for the program
  • Diverting 35% of the authorized funding away from land conservation by providing no less than 20% of funding going towards off-shore drilling technology— including speeding up permitting requests for Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) oil and gas exploration—and another 15% of funding mandated to make Payments in Lieu of Taxes (PILT) to counties where there is federal land
  • No more than 3.5% of funding going towards land acquisition by the National Park Service, US Forest Service, US Fish & Wildlife Service, and the Bureau of Land Management

What Does This Proposal Mean for the Future of our Public Lands?

The National Park Service will only barely be able to protect our National Parks (NP) by buying land from private landowners within their boundaries.  Imagine visiting Yosemite NP or Canyonlands NP and finding luxury homes within these otherwise wild parks. The same threat looms for our National Trails System. If we don’t act to protect these lands through our support of the traditional LWCF, the views from our trails may become transmission lines, commercial development, and fossil fuel pipelines. The continuity of the trails themselves will be disrupted.

Furthermore, Partnership for the National Trails System Executive Director Gary Werner states, “Chairman Bishop’s proposal, if adopted, would make it impossible for us to complete the 30 congressionally authorized National Scenic and Historic Trails.”

Share Your Voice

In order to ensure the future of the LWCF in its intended form, it is up to us to make our voices heard. We urge you to contact your congressional representatives and senators today and tell them how important the LWCF is to preserving critical historic sites, natural resources, outdoor recreation sites, and closing gaps in our National Trails System.  Ask your representatives to demand an opportunity to vote on H.R. 1814 and your senators to insist on including reauthorization of LWCF in the Omnibus 2016 Appropriations Bill to fund all federal agencies after December 11th.

In the words of Ansel Adams, “Let us leave a splendid legacy for our children. Let us turn to them and say: ‘This you inherit; guard it well, for it is far more precious than money, and once destroyed, nature’s beauty cannot be repurchased at any price.”

House Natural Resource Committee


1. Rob Bishop, UT, Chairman
2. Don Young, AK
3. Louie Gohmert, TX
4. Doug Lamborn, CO
5. Robert J. Wittman, VA
6. John Fleming, LA
7. Tom McClintock, CA
8. Glenn Thompson, PA
9. Cynthia M. Lummis, WY
10. Dan Benishek, MI
11. Jeff Duncan, SC
12. Paul A. Gosar, AZ
13. Raúl R. Labrador, ID
14. Doug LaMalfa, CA
15. Jeff Denham, CA
16. Paul Cook, CA
17. Bruce Westerman, AR
18. Garret Graves, LA
19. Dan Newhouse, WA
20. Ryan K. Zinke, MT
21. Jody B. Hice, GA
22. Aumua Amata Coleman Radewagen, AS
23. Thomas MacArthur, NJ
24. Alexander X. Mooney, WV
25. Cresent Hardy, NV
26. Darin LaHood, IL


1. Raúl M. Grijalva, AZ
2. Grace F. Napolitano, CA
3. Madeleine Z. Bordallo, GU
4. Jim Costa, CA
5. Gregorio Kilili Camacho Sablan, MP
6. Niki Tsongas, MA
7. Pedro R. Pierluisi, PR
8. Jared Huffman, CA
9. Raul Ruiz, CA
10. Alan S. Lowenthal, CA
11. Matt Cartwright, PA
12. Donald S. Beyer, Jr., VA
13. Norma J. Torres, CA
14. Debbie Dingell, MI
15. Ruben Gallego, AZ
16. Lois Capps, CA
17. Jared Polis, CO
18. Lacy Clay, MO

You can also show your support by using the hashtags #LWCF and #Outdoors4All
Learn more about the Land and Water Conservation Fund
Learn more about contacting Congress