Udall, Heinrich Introduce Bipartisan Bill To Permanently Fund LWCF

WASHINGTON, D.C. (April 11, 2019) – This week, U.S. Senators Tom Udall (D-N.M.), ranking member of the Senate Subcommittee on Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies and Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), a member of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, joined a bipartisan group of Senators to introduce the Land and Water Conservation Fund Permanent Funding Act to permanently fund the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) at a level of $900 million.  

“In February, we secured permanent reauthorization for the LWCF, a major conservation victory that I have championed for years. Full funding is the necessary next step. As the ranking member of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee responsible for LWCF funding, I have been proud to secure major funding for this essential program for several years in a row. But now, it’s time to fulfill the original promise and permanently fund this critical program – instead of agonizing year after year over funding that is vital to preserving some of New Mexico’s most iconic landscapes,” said Sen. Udall.“For the past half century, the LWCF has created urban parks like Valle de Oro and Petroglyph National Monument and conserved wild backcountry across New Mexico. These parks and open spaces support countless jobs, bolster local economies, and improve our quality of life. There's no question that the LWCF has become one of our nation's most successful conservation programs and enjoys broad bipartisan support - I urge the Senate to permanently fund the LWCF so future generations can continue to enjoy the priceless benefits of recreating outdoors.”

“I was proud to help lead the effort to permanently authorize the Land and Water Conservation Fund—one of America's most successful conservation programs," said Sen. Heinrich. "But we need to permanently and fully fund LWCF to guarantee that it will continue expanding opportunities for outdoor traditions like hunting, camping, and fishing. In New Mexico, LWCF has helped preserve many treasured public lands—including the Valles Caldera, Ute Mountain, and Valle de Oro National Wildlife Refuge—that power our thriving outdoor recreation economy. It also protects our drinking water, provides public land access, and ensures there are neighborhood parks, soccer fields, and baseball diamonds for our children. I will continue to do everything in my power to fully fund LWCF to ensure that the outdoor places we all treasure will be protected for future generations to enjoy.”

As part of the John D. Dingell, Jr. Conservation, Management, and Recreation Act, which was enacted into law last month (Public Law 116-9), Congress permanently authorized the LWCF. However, expenditures from the LWCF continue to be subject to federal appropriations. The Land and Water Conservation Fund Permanent Funding Actwould remove the requirement that LWCF funds be appropriated annually, instead, making $900 million available each year without action by Congress.

In New Mexico, LWCF has invested more than $312 million to protect public lands and open spaces and increase recreational opportunities. New Mexico's $9.9 billion outdoor industry - which is built around places that have benefited from LWCF - is a significant economic driver in the state, supporting 99,000 jobs and $2.8 billion in wages. 

To read the legislation text in full click here.