The U.S. government announced Monday that nearly $95 million will be distributed from the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) to all 50 states, U.S. territories, and the District of Columbia to support conservation and recreation projects.
The LWCF fund expired late last year after Congress did not reauthorize the program. After urging from Montana’s D.C. delegation and others, federal lawmakers revived the conservation fund for three years in December.
The funds, which are generated out of a portion of the lease revenue from offshore oil and gas development, support state-identified and community-supported projects.
Montana is receiving nearly $900,000 in LWCF funds this year.
“Like so many Montanans, I know firsthand that hunting, fishing and access to public lands is part of our way of life and the LWCF is an important and successful tool that expands access and increase recreational opportunities on our public land,” stated Montana U.S. Sen. Daines, a member of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee. “I’m pleased that Montana will receive over $896,000 to support important conservation and recreation projects in local communities and I will continue working in the Senate to ensure that LWCF remains funded.”
“I applaud every effort to increase recreational opportunities for Montanans and this money will go a long way towards doing that,” stated Montana U.S. Sen. Jon Tester. “LWCF is a critical boost to Montana’s economy, our western way of life, and our outdoor heritage.”
“The LWCF is a critical conservation tool for Montana that helps support our public lands and our multibillion dollar outdoor recreation economy,” stated Montana U.S. Rep. Ryan Zinke. “LWCF funds important projects like new public fishing areas, hiking trails, and increased access for hunters and anglers. Enjoying our land is part of who we are as Montanans. I’m proud to support the LWCF and ensure outdoor recreation opportunities for our families.”
A state-by-state list of the fiscal year 2016 stateside funding allocation is available here.
The LWCF was established by Congress in 1965 to ensure access to outdoor recreation resources 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. Funds are awarded through federal matching grants that leverage public and private investment and enable state and local governments to create, develop, or enhance everything from urban parks to state wildlife management areas to soccer fields. The funds also provide the public with access to rivers, lakes, and other water resources, and permanently conserve these areas for outdoor recreational use and enjoyment.
A recent analysis of the Land and Water Conservation Fund found that every $1 invested in land acquisition generated a $4 return on investment for communities.
Congress has appropriated LWCF funding at the fully authorized level of $900 million only once in 50 years.
Montana has received approximately $540 million in funding from the LWCF since its inception in 1965, money that has gone toward increasing outdoor recreation opportunities in Montana communities and across the state’s iconic landscapes for present and future generations.