The Jackson Foundation heartily applauds Congress for passing the Great American Outdoors Act. By fully funding the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF), it will provide billions of sorely needed resources to protect parks, public lands and waters. Last year the Fund was made permanent, and the new legislation provides a critical final step that assures its full allotment of dollars.
Senator Jackson introduced the original Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) Act in 1964. For over fifty years the Fund has contributed resources to acquire and preserve national and local parks, wild spaces, recreation areas, and the natural heritage of our country. The LWCF receives a small portion of lease royalties that are paid to the federal government for offshore energy development, combining smart economic and environmental policy. However, Congress has consistently diverted most LWCF dollars to other purposes.
The Jackson Foundation has championed the LWCF for over twenty years at critical moments in the legislation’s history. To educate lawmakers, we supported several reports highlighting the Fund’s place in guarding our nation’s outdoors, most recently in partnership with the Washington Wildlife & Recreation Coalition (WWRC). This report, funded by the Jackson Foundation, featured a number of projects throughout Washington State that had received LWCF funding, from the Dungeness National Wildlife Refuge to Spokane’s Friendship Park. The Foundation also supported WWRC in holding a series of roundtable discussions across the state to draw our Congressional members’ attention when the legislation neared its sunset in 2015.
The Jackson Foundation celebrates this success, which upholds a valuable piece of the Senator’s environmental legacy and protects our natural resources. The LWCF’s purpose is “to preserve, develop and assure accessibility to outdoor recreation resources for the American people.” This conservation program is critical as we see the positive impact of access to the outdoors on health and wellbeing, particularly during this pandemic.
We gratefully acknowledge the leadership that Senators Maria Cantwell and Patty Murray have provided to secure the LWCF’s full and permanent funding. Their consistent effort was essential in the passage of this bill, and we are encouraged by this model of bipartisan cooperation.