Secretary of the Interior Announces New Funding Package for Conservation

U.S. Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell announced last week, $42 million in funding to states to promote outdoor recreation and conservation. The funding, distributed to all 50 states, territories and the District of Columbia, comes from offshore oil and gas royalties through the Landand Water Conservation Fund ?(LWCF). A state-by-state breakdown of the Fiscal Year 2015 apportionment is available here.

Without action from Congress, the highly successful Land and Water Conservation Fund is set to expire Sept. 30. Jewell urged Congress to act swiftly to reauthorize the program and to pass President Obama?s proposal to guarantee permanent full funding of $900 million a year that is authorized under the law.

?A half century ago, Congress established a landmark law to use some revenues from offshore oil and gas development to help states and communities across America set aside green spaces, build boat docks and ball fields, and undertake other recreation projects,? Jewell said. ?Today, Congress has the opportunity to continue this great legacy by permanently reauthorizing and fully funding the Land and Water Conservation Fund.?

The National Park Service, which administers the LWCF State and Local Assistance Grant program (State-side), is distributing $42 million to states for recreational and conservation projects. States match the funding by at least 50 percent and determine how to leverage the funding to support the priorities of local communities, such as building parks and ballfields, providing hunters and anglers access to rivers or public lands, and conserving natural landscapes for public use and enjoyment.

Jewell made the announcement with Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson at the dedication of the first segment of the Cuyahoga-Lake Link?s Cleveland Foundation Centennial Trail. The trail, when completed, will provide the first-ever connection of Cuyahoga Valley National Park to Lake Erie, helping provide public access to the river. To date, Cuyahoga Valley National Park has received more than $148,000,000 in funding through the LWCF. This funding has made it possible for the NPS to protect more than 20,000 acres within the park boundary. The Centennial Trail, made possible through private-public partnerships, is an example of an urban park project that could benefit from future state-side LWCF funding.

The Land and Water Conservation Fund was established in 1965 to ensure access to outdoor recreation resources for present and future generations, and to provide money to federal, state and local governments to purchase land, water and wetlands for the benefit of all Americans. The primary source of revenue for the Land and Water Conservation Fund is from federal oil and gas leases on the Outer Continental Shelf.

Since the inception of the Fund, more than $4 billion has been made available to state and local governments to fund more than 40,000 projects ?located in nearly every county throughout the nation.
In addition to the funding to states announced last week, each year, the Department of the Interior recommends high priority recreational and conservation investments through the Land and Water Conservation Fund. Locating and learning about those special places is now easier than ever through a new, interactive map of projects proposed in the President?s Budget for 2016

Visitors can explore the 173 public projects proposed for investment in 43 states, including important waterfowl nesting habitat in the Prairie Potholes, battlefields and historic sites from Pennsylvania to Washington, and scenic vistas in iconic locations such as Maine?s Acadia National Park. For more information about the LWCF funding to states, visit www.doi.gov/lwcf.

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