|The Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) was established in 1965 to keep up with the growing demand for parks and recreation sites and facilities across the country. Funding for the program comes from a small percentage of the $6 billion in revenue from offshore oil and gas leases. The LWCF is one of the federal government’s critical conservation and recreation funding programs and has provided more than $14.4 billion to acquire new federal recreation lands and grants to state and local governments.
The LWCF is authorized to distribute $900 million to state and local agencies for land acquisition, facilities, and maintenance, yet Congress continues to divert the funds elsewhere. Senators Max Baucus (D-MT) and Richard Burr (R-NC) have introduced S. 338, the Land and Water Conservation Authorization and Funding Act of 2013, to guarantee full funding of $900 million per year for the LWCF.
Landscape architects across the country access LWCF funds to plan and design local parks, trails, and other outdoor spaces that help communities live healthier lifestyles while providing economic development and creating local jobs. A national study by the Outdoor Industry Association documents that outdoor recreation activities generate $646 billion in consumer spending and about 6.1 million direct jobs.
Today, parks and recreational trails are needed to help promote healthier lifestyles. Providing more outdoor recreational opportunities for our young people and their families is an effective and cost-efficient way to combat the obesity epidemic and other health-related problems facing our nation.
Also, culturally significant national parks, as well as local parks and lands, provide important economic benefits to our local communities. These recreational spaces generate important tourism dollars for local economies. Nearby parks and recreational space also help increase both residential and commercial property values.
ASLA continues to work to ensure that the Land and Water Conservation Fund and these other important federal programs will continue to be viewed as cost-effective priorities for encouraging outdoor recreation and economic development. We encourage you to weigh in with your senators and members of Congress and let them know that they should protect our environmental resources. Click here to send a message to your senators letting them know that they should support S. 338 and the authorization of funding for the LWCF.