Washington, D.C. – Today, the President signed into law a permanent reauthorization of the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) as part of a public lands legislative package. The legislation previously passed the Senate and the House by overwhelming bipartisan majorities.
U.S. Senators Susan Collins (R-ME) and Angus King (I-ME) have long championed LWCF. In January, they joined a bipartisan group in reintroducing legislation to permanently reauthorize the program.
“I have long supported LWCF, which has helped to ensure that everyone can enjoy the beauty of natural resources in Maine and across the country. I am delighted that this permanent reauthorization will secure the future of our country’s most important and successful conservation program, which will create the stability that landowners, states, local communities, and conservation partners need to plan ahead,” said Senator Collins. “The broad, bipartisan support LWCF received reflects the outdoor recreation opportunities this program has created in every county in every state.”
“The Land and Water Conservation Fund isn’t a partisan or a political issue – it’s an overwhelmingly popular program that has preserved public lands and supported outdoor recreation programs for the last half century – but never had a permanent funding source to make it a lasting treasure,” said Senator King. “For 50 years, the LWCF has helped Americans across the country connect with our nation’s natural beauty, and thanks to this permanent reauthorization, we can be certain that it will never again be put in jeopardy due to unrelated debates. This is good news for the American people, who will now be able to reap the benefits of LWCF’s work and enjoy our public lands for generations to come.”
In Maine, the reauthorization of LWCF is supported by L.L. Bean, Chimani, Natural Resources Council of Maine, The Nature Conservancy in Maine, Maine Conservation Voters, Appalachian Mountain Club Maine Chapter, and the Maine State Chamber of Commerce.
“We are thrilled with the overwhelming support and permanent reauthorization of LWCF. For over half a century this successful conservation program has supported protection of and access to our nation’s irreplaceable outdoors. The continued commitment to LWCF funding will ensure outdoor recreational opportunities for generations to come,” said Shawn Gorman, L.L. Bean’s Executive Chair of the Board.
“The permanent reauthorization of the LWCF is a success for all Americans and one of the best examples of how conservation and the outdoor economy bridge political divides,” said Kerry Gallivan, CEO and Founder of Chimani, a mobile app travel guide for national parks based in Yarmouth. “As we look to the future when in 2050 two thirds of the world's population will be living in urban centers, we will reflect on this moment as one of the most historic conservation laws passed because future generations of Americans will need access to nature more than ever.”
“Thank you Senators Susan Collins and Angus King for protecting Maine’s land, water, and outdoor heritage by championing and voting for the Natural Resources Management Act, which permanently authorizes the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF), expands national parks by 42,000 acres, creates four new national monuments, adds 367 miles of rivers to the National Wild and Scenic Rivers System, and designates more than 1.3 million acres of new wilderness. This bill is a victory for land conservation across the nation,” said Emmie Theberge, Federal Director at the Natural Resources Council of Maine. “LWCF has helped protect some of Maine’s most treasured landscapes as well as supported local projects including ballfields, trails, recreation sites, and historic sites around the state. This is good news for Maine and we thank Senator Collins and Senator King for being longtime champions of this important conservation program.”
“LWCF is one of the biggest bargains in US history – it doesn’t use tax dollars as it is funded by royalties oil companies pay to the government for offshore drilling. We appreciate greatly the leadership of Senator Collins, Senator King, and our entire Congressional Delegation,” said Kate Dempsey, State Director of The Nature Conservancy in Maine. “Maine has benefitted immensely. LWCF has provided funding to conserve working forest land, and some of our most special places, ensuring sustainable forestry, wildlife habitat and access for hunting, fishing, hiking, camping, paddling, snowmobiling and other outdoor pursuits. Renewing this program is not only good for conservation, it is good for our economy, and the Maine brand.”
"Maine Conservation Voters lauds the permanent reauthorization of the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF). LWCF has provided funding to help protect some of Maine's most special places and ensure recreational access for hunting, fishing, and other outdoor activities. Forest Legacy Program grants are also funded under LWCF to help protect working forests, of which Maine has many,” said Beth Ahearn, Director of Government Affairs, Maine Conservation Voters. “We are very appreciative of Senators Collins' and King's steadfast leadership in working to achieve this victory, which will benefit Maine as well as the nation for the foreseeable future."
“Today’s signing of permanent reauthorization for the Land and Water Conservation Fund is the result of an incredible show of bipartisan support for this unique and critical program, which sets the gold standard for reinvesting the public’s royalties from energy development into our natural and cultural resources,” said Kaitlyn Bernard, AMC Maine Policy Manager. “AMC is thrilled that this program will be available into perpetuity to support ongoing conservation and recreational access projects in our state. We thank our delegation for their staunch support and are eager to see the promise of LWCF finally honored, so that these important funds once again support Maine!”
“Maine’s economy is tied directly to our natural resources. It is our competitive advantage and the foundation of our economy,” said Dana Connors, President of the Maine State Chamber of Commerce. “LWCF has provided funding for some of our most special places, ensuring access for hunting, fishing, hiking, camping, paddling, snowmobiling, and other outdoor pursuits. The Maine Chamber thanks Senators Collins and King for their strong support of LWCF, and we appreciate their efforts to permanently reauthorize this important program.”
The LWCF was established by Congress in 1965 to ensure access to outdoor spaces for present and future generations, and to provide money to federal agencies and state and local governments to purchase land, water, and wetlands for the benefit of all Americans. The LWCF has supported more than 42,000 state and local projects in communities across the country.