Washington, D.C. —U.S. Senator Joe Donnelly today announced his support for bipartisan legislation that would permanently reauthorize the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF). Reauthorizing LWCF would benefit Indiana, continuing and strengthening efforts to conserve parks, lands, and wildlife habitat of hunting, fishing, and outdoor recreation.
Donnelly said, “The Land and Water Conservation Fund is an important resource for Indiana’s conservation efforts and recreation economy. We have seen firsthand the benefits of LWCF in our state, with the increase in parks, recreational facilities, and conservation initiatives in our communities. That is why I am joining my colleagues in a bipartisan effort to permanently reauthorize LWCF, and I am hopeful the Senate will consider and pass this legislation.”
The Land and Water Conservation Fund Act of 1965 was enacted to help preserve and ensure access to outdoor recreational facilities and public lands. The LWCF has been used for a few purposes, including:
- Land acquisition for outdoor recreation by federal agencies including the National Park Service, Bureau of Land Management, Fish and Wildlife Service, and Forest Service;
- A matching grant program to assist states in recreational planning, acquiring recreational lands and waters, and developing outdoor recreational facilities.
LWCF does not use taxpayer money, and instead receives a small portion of the billions of dollars in annual oil and gas royalties.
Since LWCF’s creation, it has been valuable to Indiana. According to the Indiana Department of Natural Resources, through LWCF, Indiana has received $84 million, and about half of that has been awarded to local sponsors and the rest invested in state projects. The Department reported that more than 170 Indiana park and recreation boards have obtained grants, allowing for more land and recreation facilities to be acquired including trails, fields, tennis courts, playgrounds, and picnic areas for Indiana families. As a result of the program, there are now more than 300,000 additional acres of land for local and state parks and hundreds of public recreation facilities have been built or improved.