Bill Passed with Bipartisan Support
The National Recreation and Park Association is pleased that the U.S. Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources passed the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) Permanent Funding Act (S. 1081) by a vote of 13 to 7. A big step in the quest to obtain full, dedicated LWCF funding, this vote marks the first time such a bill has passed out of committees from both the Senate and the House, according to the association.
Today's Senate Committee vote brings the LWCF Permanent Funding Act one step closer to becoming a reality," said Kristine Stratton, NRPA president and CEO. "NRPA thanks Senators Joe Manchin (D-WV), Cory Gardner (R-CO) Maria Cantwell (D-WA) and Richard Burr (R-NC) for taking action and introducing a bill to fully fund LWCF, an important piece of funding our member agencies rely on to help provide access to parks and recreational opportunities in communities across the country. We urge members of Congress to join the House and Senate Committees in support of this bill because everyone deserves a great park."
In February, Congress passed the John D. Dingell Conservation, Management and Recreation Act, which includes many provisions relating to conservation and national parks, and President Trump signed it into law. Although the Dingell Act sets aside 40 percent of overall LWCF funding for the state assistance program, it does not provide mandatory funding for the program, according to the NRPA's press release. If the legislation passed, it would ensure $900 million goes to LWCF annually, and 40 percent ($360 million) goes to state and local assistance, an increase of $260 million.
The NRPA states that it has long been pushing for permanent reauthorization and funding of LWCF. In most states - a portion of the LWCF money received goes to local governments to provide funding for local parks. These funds help in creating new parks or redeveloping existing parks and public outdoor recreation sites. The LWCF State Assistance Program has strict requirements that ensure projects funded through the program are used for outdoor recreation in perpetuity.