Congress has missed its last opportunity in 2018 to reauthorize the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF), a landmark conservation and recreation program that has funded projects throughout Pennsylvania and across the nation since it began in 1965. Despite strong bipartisan support, including from the Pennsylvania delegation, the Continuing Resolution passed by the Senate this week did not include LWCF.
To date, Congress has already left nearly $200 million – more than $2 million per day – on the table; money that would have been made available to communities to build and enhance public recreational opportunities, and to help protect our most unique and threatened historic and natural areas.
LWCF is funded through leasing revenues from offshore oil and gas development; its benefits, available to everyone, are not paid for by the taxpayers. So many of Pennsylvania’s iconic and most treasured areas – the Appalachian Trail, the Flight 93 Memorial, the Greater Allegheny Passage, to name just a few – all have been made possible by LWCF. And that doesn’t even include the hundreds of local parks and recreational facilities in almost every county in Pennsylvania that were supported by the fund.
These spaces are a fundamental part of Pennsylvania’s identity and heritage. They support a tremendous sector of our economy – one that generates billions of dollars in public revenue, and sustain hundreds of thousands of jobs.
When the new Congress reconvenes in January, our representatives must make LWCF reauthorization a top priority in their first 100 days. Each day without permanent reauthorization is a lost opportunity for the people and communities of Pennsylvania.