The Trust for Public Land will launch the first interactive map showcasing the impact of the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF), the nation’s most important program to create and develop parks, trails and outdoor recreation areas, conserve nature and protect cultural sites, across its 55-year history.
LWCF has funded projects in nearly every county in the nation, and in every U.S. state and territory – from Yellowstone National Park and the Appalachian Trail to ballfields and boat launches across the nation.
The map, located here, allows users to zoom in on their own neighborhood and find their favorite local park or outdoor recreation destination and learn more about how LWCF impacted their access to the outdoors close to home. Or they can take a virtual trip across the country to see how LWCF protected some of America’s most iconic national parks and historic sites.
In August 2020, the Great American Outdoors Act, which permanently funds the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) at $900 million annually, was signed into law with broad, bipartisan support.
“The Land and Water Conservation Fund is the cornerstone of conservation in America, and the key to ensuring all people living in America have equitable access to the great outdoors,” said Diane Regas, President and CEO of the Trust for Public Land. “Full and permanent funding for the LWCF is a huge step forward in providing the resources needed to create outdoor experiences in places they are needed most, and with the health benefits that parks, trails and public lands provide our communities.”
The Trust for Public Land also says LWCF is a locally driven critical tool for communities working collaboratively, which will help achieve the Biden-Harris administration’s goal of conserving 30 percent of our lands, waters and ocean by 2030 – a commitment that is has wide support by Americans, with four out of five voters expressing support.
The map highlights projects such as:
- Appalachian Trail – Georgia to Maine – The Appalachian National Scenic Trail (AT) is the “granddaddy” of the National Trails System. It would not exist as it does today without LWCF funding. LWCF investments have been critical to protection of the AT’s footpath, scenic views and key properties that connect it to other trails and public lands. To date, more than $250 million of LWCF funds have helped protect nearly 200,000 acres along the 2,193-mile trail, creating a tapestry of National Park Service, US Forest Service, state, local and private lands that are permanently protected from Maine to Georgia. A centerpiece of conservation efforts throughout the East, the trail connects large tracts of forests, wilderness and more developed parkland and traverses 14 states, 88 counties, 75 public land units and has millions of visitors each year. Management and maintenance of the trail is supported by a network of volunteers, providing substantial cost savings to federal agencies.
- Southern California/Los Angeles Metro Region – Over the 55-plus year history of the LWCF, almost $750 million of funding investments at the federal, state and local level have gone to California’s densely populated southern counties – Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Diego and Ventura, home to nearly 20 million residents and millions more annual visitors. Across this geography, LWCF funding has helped ensure neighborhood, regional and remote backcountry access to nature and the outdoors and protected special natural resource and recreation areas like Joshua Tree National Park, the greater Mojave Desert national monument and preserve, the Santa Monica, San Gabriel and San Bernardino mountains, and the San Diego River, thus supporting the regional tourism economy of southern California and protecting critical fish and wildlife habitat and water resources.
- Phoenix & Tucson Metro Area Parks, Arizona – For more than 55 years, the LWCF has invested more than $40 million in state, regional and local parks in the Phoenix and Tucson metropolitan areas, ensuring that residents of these densely populated areas have access to parks, recreation facilities and close-to-home recreation opportunities. When combined with the nearly $46 million in LWCF investments at Saguaro National Park and additional LWCF funding at the adjacent Tonto and Coronado National Forests, LWCF has ensured that Arizonan and thousands of annual visitors have easy access to the great outdoors.
- Everglades Ecosystem, Florida – Eight million people and countless species of animals call the Everglades ecosystem home – challenging the resources of this iconic natural system that supplies water for the residents of south Florida. Over $500 million of investments from the LWCF over many years have protected the fragile and important Everglades ecosystem, from its headwaters in the ranchlands north of the park to its outflow in Florida Bay. The bulk of LWCF funds have gone to Everglades National Park, one of the most popular parks in the national park system and one of its crown jewels. Almost 1 million visitors experience the wonders of the Everglades every year. In addition to $131 million of LWCF used by the National Park Service to protect key Everglades resources in the park, over $200 million in LWCF funding has supported the Florida Everglades Restoration Project, a massive undertaking by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and other stakeholders to restore the natural flow of water in the Everglades ecosystem. Restoring this piece of America’s heritage has provided crucial protection to wildlife, increased access to outdoor recreation, safeguarded community character and resources by reducing sprawl, and helped local economies through increased tourism revenues.