Senate Votes to Permanently Reauthorize LWCF

LWCF has conserved land and created outdoor recreation opportunities across the country.

Washington, D.C. – Today, the U.S. Senate approved a permanent reauthorization of the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) as part of a public lands legislative package.  The legislation passed by a vote of 92-8 will now be considered by the House of Representatives


Senators Susan Collins (R-ME) and Angus King (I-ME) have long championed LWCF.  Last month, they joined a bipartisan group in reintroducing legislation to permanently reauthorize the program. 


“LWCF is our country’s most important and successful conservation and outdoor recreation program,” said Senator Collins.  “The broad, bipartisan support LWCF received reflects the outdoor recreation opportunities this program has created in every county across the country.  Permanent reauthorization of LWCF will strengthen local conservation and recreation efforts in Maine, helping to ensure both current and future generations can enjoy the beauty of its natural resources.”


“Over the last 50 years, the Land and Water Conservation Fund has preserved public lands, supported outdoor recreation programs, and helped people across the country connect with the America’s natural beauty,” said Senator King. “The LWCF isn’t a partisan or political issue, and it should not be regularly held in limbo due to unrelated debates. By permanently reauthorizing the LWCF, we will be able to guarantee that this program will continue to serve the American public and protect our public lands for generations to come.”


“We are thrilled that the Senate supports 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.


“Some of the greatest outdoor destinations in our country have been created by LWCF - from our iconic national parks to local municipal parks. These destinations provide much needed outdoor space for everyone and are tremendous economic engines for local and national businesses. The strong bipartisan support and reauthorization of LWCF ensure continued social and economic benefits for all 50 states,” said Kerry Gallivan, CEO and Founder of Chimani, a mobile app travel guide for national parks based in Yarmouth.


“The Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) is a vital program for Maine and we thank Senator Collins and Senator King for their efforts to ensure that permanent reauthorization of this important conservation program passed the Senate. LWCF has helped protect some of Maine’s most treasured landscapes – from Acadia National Park and the Rachel Carson National Wildlife Refuge to numerous state parks around Maine including, Camden Hills, Popham Beach, Mount Blue, Two Lights, and Rangeley Lake. LWCF has also supported local projects around Maine, including ballfields, trails, recreation sites, and historic sites. These public spaces are what they are today thanks in part to LWCF—attracting thousands of Mainers and visitors alike each year. This is good news for Maine and we thank Senator Collins and Senator King for being longtime champions of this important conservation program.” said Emmie Theberge, Federal Director at the Natural Resources Council of Maine.


“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. Since its inception five decades ago, it has invested in Acadia National Park, the Bigelow Mountains, Rachel Carson National Wildlife Refuge, the Machias River, and Cold Stream Forest. Renewing this program is not only good for conservation, it is good for our economy, and the Maine brand.”


"The Land and Water Conservation Fund (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. Maine Conservation Voters strongly supports permanent reauthorization of LWCF with full and dedicated funding. We are thankful to Senator Collins and Senator King for their past and continued support of permanent funding for this important program and hope Congress follows their lead," said Beth Ahearn, Program Director at the Maine Conservation Voters.


“Permanent reauthorization of the Land and Water Conservation Fund is a major win for Maine’s treasured landscapes and outdoor recreation economy. AMC is proud to partner with Senator Collins and Senator King in support of LWCF, and we thank them for years of tireless advocacy on behalf of Maine’s mountains, forests, trails, coastlines, and close-to-home parks.  We look forward to continuing to work with the Maine delegation to build on today’s victory and enact full, dedicated funding of LWCF to finally realize its true promise for Maine and the nation,” said Kaitlyn Bernard, AMC Maine Policy Manager.


“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. 


As a senior member of the Appropriations Committee, Senator Collins worked to secure $425 million for LWCF, including funding for the Forest Legacy Program and for the Stateside grants, in the fiscal year 2019 Interior Appropriations bill that passed the Senate in August 2018.