The Land & Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) is one of the United States most effective mechanisms for funding conservation across the country.
LWCF is money set aside to acquire land that enhances protections of valuable natural resources. The money comes from revenue from Federal Leases collected from offshore drilling, therefore turning an "environmental bad": taking something from the land, into an "environmental good": promoting sustainability - without spending a single taxpayer dollar!
LWCF in New Jersey:
Since its inception in 1965, $346 million of LWCF monies have been spent in New Jersey, protecting historic sites and wildlife habitat, increasing access for outdoor recreation, and complementing local efforts to preserve open space. Sites that have benefited can be found all over the State from the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area and the Pinelands National Preserve to Morristown National Historical Park and Jesse Allen Park in Newark.
What does LWCF have to do with the Highlands?
The Highlands Coalition's mission is to protect and enhance the natural and cultural resources that make up the New Jersey Highlands, which is completely aligned with the intentions behind LWCF. Additionally, LWCF is part of the funding granted under the Highlands Conservation Act which provides $10 million divided among the 4 States in the Highlands region (Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York and Connecticut). This money allows for the strategic acquisition of parcels of land that increase protections on critical resources such as the water 6.2 million New Jerseyans depend upon; the forests that filter that water and help us mitigate climate change; and the unique species whose habitat is constantly threatened by encroaching development.
An economic powerhouse:
Beyond conservation, setting aside land for natural preservation creates spaces for people to spend time outdoors, which is both a huge benefit to individuals' health and an important part of State's economies. In New Jersey the Outdoor Industry is estimated be worth $18.9 billion, in addition to the 143,000 jobs it provides. A large portion of the LWCF is used to conserve public lands and create opportunities for recreation.
Reauthorizing LWCF permanently and to the full amount:
LWCF has generally received broad bipartisan support in recognition of the success it has had in all 50 states. However, despite the fund being authorized for $900 million it has never in its 52 years been fully allocated that amount; money has been diverted to other purposes. Recently the fund received only about a third of its funding level. It is critical that Congress pass permanent reauthorization for the full amount originally prescribed.
Thank you for your support,
Outreach & Education Director
Let’s tell Congress how much we value LWCF, and it get it fully and permanently reauthorized.