Land and Water Conservation Fund: Not Authorized, Still Hoping

The Land and Water Conservation Fund keeps struggling.  It expired in September, 2018.  Now there are ongoing efforts to have it renewed.  While the Fund has widespread public support (and the support of both of West Virginia’s Senators) it has not been able to make it over the finish line.

The Land and Water Conservation Fund is one of America’s most important conservation program.  It collects a royalty on offshore oil and gas drilling.  It then uses these royalties to make grants to protect parks, trails, wildlife refuges and recreation areas at the federal, state and local level. For more than 50 years, it has provided critical funding for land and water conservation projects, access to recreation including hunting and fishing, and the continued historic preservation of our nation’s iconic landmarks from coast-to-coast.

The latest disappointment came in mid-December.  Advocates for the Land and Water Conservation Fund had hoped to have a vote on reauthorization of the Fund or have that reauthorization included in the continuing resolution, the one that would have funded a large fraction of the government.  In spite of the advocates’ best efforts, the U.S. Senate failed to move forward on the package of public lands legislation that included the permanent reauthorization of the Land and Water Conservation Fund.

What the supporters of the Fund got instead was a promise.  Senate leaders promised that reauthorization of the Fund would be brought up for a vote in January, 2019.  Because the Fund has widespread support among the public and among members of Congress, its supporters are optimistic that if it is ever allowed to come up for a vote the Land and Water Conservation Fund will be reauthorized.