New Secretary’s Order Increases Flexibility and Empowers States to Support Healthy Active Communities with Unprecedented LWCF Funding

Last edited 02/15/2023

Date: Friday, Nov. 13, 2020

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today, US Secretary of the Interior David L. Bernhardt established criteria to invest unprecedented funding in state and local communities that will enhance recreation and conservation, and he outlined the steps Interior is taking to implement the Trump Administration’s historic Great American Outdoors Act, the greatest conservation funding law in US history.

“Under the leadership of President Trump, Interior is hard at work to implement this landmark legislation and to be stewards of the money Congress has entrusted us to manage,” said Secretary Bernhardt. “These actions ensure land acquisitions will increase recreation opportunities, enhance conservation benefits and provide flexibility to our partners in states and local communities to ensure this investment is managed and allocated in the best possible manner.”

The landmark Great American Outdoors Act uses royalties from offshore oil and natural gas to permanently and fully fund the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) at $900 million a year to invest in conservation and recreation opportunities across the nation.

“Given the responsibility to manage this unprecedented conservation investment, Interior must carefully evaluate each action to maximize the impact of every dollar. We also must work collaboratively with our many partners,” said Margaret Everson, Counselor to the Secretary and Chair of the Great American Outdoors Act Task Force. “We are committed to managing these resources in partnership with the states and others in the conservation community. During our deliberations on how best to implement GAOA we heard from a number of those partners, and the policy directives embodied in this SO reflect those conversations.”

Earlier this year, Secretary Bernhardt established a Great American Outdoors Act implementation Task Force to develop a Department-wide strategy that maximizes the impact of the Act. The Task Force and agency leaders worked with superintendents, refuge managers, tribal school supervisors and state directors, as well as with members of Congress, interest groups and the general public to inform the Department’s approach. Through this thoughtful process of listening to a broad spectrum of voices, Interior was able to set the foundation for what a successfully executed program should generate for the Department and the American people.

The LWCF was established by Congress in 1964 to ensure access to outdoor recreation resources for present and future generations, and to provide money to federal, state and local governments to purchase land, water and wetlands for the benefit of all Americans. The full potential of this important conservation law has not been realized until now. The funds enable state and local governments to improve park and other recreation areas in their communities by rehabilitating and upgrading existing parks, creating brand new parks in places that have none and developing and expanding trail systems that link communities to each other and to additional recreation opportunities.

Key components of Secretary’s Order 3388 include:

  • Prioritizes investments that increase public access for recreation, enhance conservation and support recovery of endangered species
  • Increases flexibility for how states and local communities spend and match LWCF grants
  • Honors Interior’s commitment to be a good neighbor by giving states and communities a voice in Federal land acquisition

In the coming months, Interior will share more details about specific project activities and LWCF investments as projects get underway.


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