February 11, 2022

Congressman Neguse Leads Push to Increase Land and Water Conservation Funding in Next Year’s Budget

Washington D.C.— Congressman Joe Neguse, Chair of the U.S. House Subcommittee on National Parks, Forests and Public Lands, is pushing to increase funding for the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) in the next fiscal year. In a letter addressed to Biden Administration Cabinet officials, Congressman Neguse requested $450 million in new funding to expand access to outdoor recreation and put local communities at the forefront in restoring public lands.

“LWCF supports an array of benefits, from protecting drinking water and conserving natural infrastructure, to providing landscape conservation, habitat protection, and outdoor recreation access for all,” reads the letter from Congressman Neguse and lawmakers. “Now is the time for America to make significant progress towards its conservation goals and to avoid loss of sensitive lands and waters. We urge you to consider an investment of $450 million in  discretionary funds, in addition to mandatory LWCF funding, be part of the Administration’s next budget proposal to address the numerous ready-to-go project opportunities.”

“The Land and Water Conservation Fund is our nation’s premier conservation program, protecting everything from national parks and national landmarks to local trails in urban and rural communities to areas for hunters and fishermen,” said Congressman Joe Neguse, Chair of the U.S. House Subcommittee on National Parks, Forests and Public Lands. “Investments in LWCF not only support land conservation, but they create thousands of jobs in the outdoor recreation economy, with every $1 spent by LWCF generating $4 in economic value to both rural communities and cities. Preserving our public lands and investing in our outdoor recreation economy is an ongoing task, and we continue to make sure voices of our local communities are heard and future generations can continue enjoying Colorado's beautiful outdoors.”

Since coming to Congress, Congressman Neguse has urged full funding for LWCF. During the COVID-19 pandemic, Congressman Neguse led over 100 legislators to request strong funding for COVID-19 economic relief for the LWCF and other federal programs that serve as the foundation of the outdoor recreation industry. In June 2020, Congressman Joe Neguse helped secure passage of the Great American Outdoors Act out of the U.S. House of Representatives, which would fully fund the LWCF at $900 million and invest $9.5 billion in the public lands maintenance backlog. Additionally, Congressman Joe Neguse’s legislation, the Colorado Outdoor Recreation and Economy Act, or the CORE Act, which would preserve 400,000 acres of public land in Colorado has passed the U.S. House of Representatives twice. 

Read the full letter here and below: 

February 11, 2022

The Honorable Deb Haaland
Secretary 
U.S. Department of the Interior
1849 C Street NW 
Washington, DC 20240

The Honorable Tom Vilsack
Secretary Secretary
U.S. Department of Agriculture
1400 Jefferson Drive SW
Washington, DC 20024

The Honorable Brenda Mallory
Chair
Council on Environmental Quality
730 Jackson Place NW
Washington, DC 20506

The Honorable Shalanda Young
Acting Director
Office of Management and Budget
725 17th Street NW
Washington, DC 20503

Dear Secretary Haaland, Secretary Vilsack, Chairwoman Mallory, and Acting Director Young,

We are writing to express our support for strengthening the Land and Water Conservation Fund
(LWCF), our nation’s most important conservation and recreation program. LWCF supports an
array of benefits, from protecting drinking water and conserving natural infrastructure, to
providing landscape conservation, habitat protection, and outdoor recreation access for all. The
program and its many benefits are critical to preserving America’s most treasured landscapes for
future generations. However, LWCF needs increased investment in Fiscal Year 2023 to address
all the outstanding conservation and recreation priorities across the country.

This year, the Biden Administration submitted nearly $1.1 billion in LWCF needs in its budget
request (including $192 million on the ready-to-go supplemental project lists), and hundreds of
millions more were identified during the budget process but left off the final submission lists.
Overall demand for LWCF is even higher, with many projects on the priority lists representing
single phases of much larger projects. To avoid losing irreplaceable natural and cultural
resources, we urge that the President’s Budget Request for FY23 include $450 million in
discretionary funding, to complement the mandatory allocations provided by the Great American
Outdoors Act (GAOA).

Under GAOA, annual revenues covered into the LWCF account since FY2021 are dedicated for
LWCF expenditure, allowing for increased investment in landscape-level conservation, working
forests and ranchlands, historic and cultural sites, and access to the outdoors for all. The
legislation left intact the ability of future Congresses to appropriate additional discretionary
LWCF funds, and over $22 billion in prior LWCF receipts remain unspent from the LWCF
Special Account in the Treasury. Meanwhile, project demand in every state continues to outstrip
the level set for the program, with many now-or-never opportunities at risk.

LWCF’s $900 million level was authorized in 1978, when the purchasing power of that amount
was more than four times what it is today. Since that time, chronic underfunding of LWCF
created a backlog of unmet conservation and recreation needs and a long line of willing-seller
landowners and community stakeholders clamoring for access to these funds. GAOA’s dedicated
funding can begin to address these critical needs; to more fully address urgent conservation
priorities and inequities, additional targeted investment is needed from the unobligated balances
of the LWCF Special Account.

Now is the time for America to make significant progress towards its conservation goals and to
avoid loss of sensitive lands and waters. We urge you to consider an investment of $450 million
in discretionary funds, in addition to mandatory LWCF funding, be part of the Administration’s
next budget proposal to address the numerous ready-to-go project opportunities. To maintain the
strength of the land management agencies and the integrity of their overall work, we ask that
these additional LWCF funds be provided to augment the budgets of these agencies, and not to
supplant other necessary operating spending.

Thank you for your attention to this important program and we look forward to working with you
to grow investment in conservation and recreation across the nation.

Sincerely,