The Conservation Alliance and Outdoor Industry Association released a letter today signed by more than 280 outdoor-focused businesses and organizations asking Congress to permanently reauthorize the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) with full and dedicated funding.
LWCF was created in 1965 when Congress agreed to direct a small portion of royalties from offshore oil leases to conserve and ensure access to public lands. Since the mid-1960s, the LWCF has directed billions of dollars to state and local programs and to national parks, forests, monuments and wildlife refuges in almost every county in the country.
“The LWCF supports efforts to protect important landscapes and waterways throughout the United Sates,” said John Sterling, executive director of The Conservation Alliance. “These funds are essential to preserving and expanding outdoor recreation opportunities for all Americans.”
Thanks to a promising compromise between chairman Rob Bishop and ranking member Raul Grijalva earlier this month, permanent reauthorization of the program, with 3 percent dedicated to recreation, passed the House Natural Resources Committee. However, if Congress fails to take action before Sept. 30, LWCF will expire. With its expiration, important conservation and recreation projects across the country will lose access to up to $900 million in annual funding. Legislation to reauthorize LWCF has been introduced in both chambers of Congress, and The Conservation Alliance and Outdoor Industry Association are calling on Congress to pass legislation that permanently reauthorizes, with full and dedicated funding, this critical conservation tool.
The letter represents hundreds of manufacturers, distributors, retailers, outfitters, small family businesses, entrepreneurial startups and international Fortune 1000 companies that make and sell products for active use in the outdoors. According to the Outdoor Industry Association Recreation Economy report, outdoor recreation generates $887 billion in consumer spending, sustaining 7.6 million American jobs. These outdoor-focused businesses depend on the same protected places that LWCF supports.
“LWCF is the backbone of healthy communities and healthy economies across the country,” said Amy Roberts, executive director of Outdoor Industry Association. “Outdoor businesses need certainty that LWCF projects will continue to open access to the outdoors. It’s time for Congress to reauthorize and commit to fully funding this critical program once and for all.”
Leaders representing these hundreds of businesses will join The Conservation Alliance and Outdoor Industry Association in Washington, D.C., this week to demonstrate to congressional leaders that the success of businesses across the nation depends on the Land and Water Conservation Fund.