New analysis measures the Land and Water Conservation Fund’s success

Aug 23, 2018

August 23, 2018

At least 491,000 acres protected in four-year period from 2014 to 2017, hundreds of thousands of acres on the line if program expires

DENVER—A new report released today by the Center for Western Priorities, Funding America’s Conservation Future, offers a data-driven analysis of the Land and Water Conservation Fund’s (LWCF) accomplishments and examines what is at stake if Congress fails to renew the critical land conservation program.

The report, which identified and examined upwards of 800 LWCF projects proposed from 2014 through 2017, provides a unique look at the scope and scale of LWCF successes for communities and states across the nation.

“Virtually every single American is positively impacted by the Land and Water Conservation Fund,” said Andre Miller, co-author of the report. “We have LWCF to thank for permanently conserving hundreds of thousands of acres of national public lands, enhancing access for hunters and anglers, and protecting parks from the risk of trophy home development. That’s just in the four years examined. This is one of those programs the government has done right.”

The analysis found 293 U.S. public land and Forest Legacy LWCF projects were successfully completed in 42 states from 2014 through 2017, permanently conserving 431,000 acres and protecting America’s parks and public lands from development. An additional 92 LWCF projects proposed during this period, encompassing 221,000 acres, are in the process of being completed.

LWCF is the primary source of funding to enhance access to public lands across the country, but the popular program will expire if Congress does not reauthorize it by the end of September 2018. Established in 1964, the program takes funds from offshore drilling and uses them to reinvest in outdoor recreation and public land protections. LWCF monies are used to create local parks, ballfields, and swimming pools, to enhance access for hunting and fishing, and to protect national parks and wildlife refuges from the risks of residential development.

If Congress fails to reauthorize and fully fund LWCF, a minimum of 223 LWCF projects that would protect 318,000 acres are on the line.

Miller continued, “A failure to permanently renew and fully fund LWCF will put hundreds of thousands of acres at risk. The program has increased access to our public lands and protected America’s parks for more than half-a-century, and now it’s up to Congress to permanently reauthorize and provide full, dedicated funding for LWCF.”

Along with the printed report, the Center for Western Priorities is releasing an interactive map showing LWCF projects examined in the report. This map is available to news outlets and partner organizations for linking or embedding. Contact Media Director Aaron Weiss for instructions on how to include the map in your story or website.

The report determined on-the-ground outcomes of 795 unique U.S. public land and Forest Legacy projects proposed or administered by the Bureau of Land Management, Fish and Wildlife Service, National Park Service, and Forest Service between 2014 and 2017. It also provides case studies for eight LWCF projects, including over 7,000 acres protected along Trumbull Creek in Montana in 2016; over 4,000 acres protected in Tennessee’s Sherwood Forest in 2015; and the ongoing effort to protect nearly 3,000 acres of El Malpais National Monument in New Mexico.

A PDF of the report is available for download.

For more information, visit To speak with an expert on public lands, contact Aaron Weiss at 720-279-0019 or Sign up for Look West to get daily public lands and energy news sent to your inbox.