The House of Representatives passed a bill Friday that will grant full and guaranteed funding for the Land and Water Conservation Fund. The Consolidated Land, Energy, and Aquatic Resources Act of 2010 (H.R. 3534) will dedicate $900 million each year to LWCF, the federal government’s main program for preserving open space and building and enhancing parks, trails and recreation infrastructure throughout the U.S.
“OIA thanks every member of the House who voted for this bill and specifically recognizes Congressman Nick Rahall (D-WV) for his vision and commitment to achieving full and dedicated funding for LWCF,” said Frank Hugelmeyer, president of Outdoor Industry Association.
The federal land acquisition portion of the LWCF program is the key source of funds to purchase lands for national forests, national parks, national wildlife refuges, and the Bureau of Land Management. LWCF dollars expand and improve opportunities for hiking, biking, paddling, climbing, backcountry skiing, camping, hunting, fishing, wildlife viewing and other outdoor recreation activities.
The fund has helped to enhance Yosemite National Park, the Grand Canyon, the Florida Everglades, and the Appalachian Trail.
A fully funded LWCF supports the outdoor recreation economy. Retail sales and travel expenses associated with activities like hiking, fishing, camping, climbing, mountain biking, river rafting, and wildlife viewing contribute $730 billion annually to the U.S. economy, supporting 6.5 million jobs across the U.S. and generating $88 billion in annual state and federal tax revenue
A healthy LWCF also supports conservation related jobs. A study by the University of Massachusetts found that every $1 million spent on LWCF projects and on national, state and local parks, creates more than 20 jobs on average.
“Securing full and dedicated funding for LWCF has been a priority issue for OIA and the outdoor industry for many years and today’s vote is an historic step in realizing that vision. However, the work is not over. The focus now moves to the Senate which will debate a bill granting full funding for LWCF next week. We encourage our members to make sure your senators know how important this vote is to the outdoor recreation community,” said Amy Roberts, vice president of Government Affairs for OIA.