California Coastal NM

Land and Water Conservation Fund

What is the Land and Water Conservation Fund?

The Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) was established by Congress in 1964 to fulfill a bipartisan commitment to safeguard natural areas, water resources and cultural heritage, and to provide recreation opportunities to all Americans. The fund invests earnings from offshore oil and gas leasing to help strengthen communities, preserve history and protect the national endowment of lands and waters. On August 4, 2020, the Great American Outdoors Act (GAOA) was signed into law, authorizing $900 million annually in permanent funding for LWCF. Prior to the passage of GAOA, funding for LWCF relied on annual Congressional appropriations.

Where does the money come from?

The primary source of revenue for the LWCF is from Federal oil and gas leases on the Outer Continental Shelf. The LWCF is based on a simple concept: take revenues from the depletion of resources – offshore oil and gas – and use them to conserve other resources:  parks, wildlife refuges, forests, open spaces, trails and wildlife habitat.

Where does the money go?

Money from the LWCF goes to a variety of programs that support a nationwide legacy of high-quality recreation and conservation areas. Some of the funds are invested by agencies to protect Federal lands for public outdoor recreation use and enjoyment – including National Parks, National Forests, National Recreation Areas and National Wildlife Refuges and Conservation Areas. Agencies also partner with landowners to support voluntary conservation activities on private lands. Some of the funds are distributed directly to States and local communities through grant programs. Tribes can work with States through the grant programs to secure LWCF funding for recreation and conservation projects. These grants can be used for a range of projects from establishing baseball fields and community green spaces; to providing public access to rivers, lakes and other water resources; to protecting historic and cultural sites; and conserving natural landscapes.