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ABOUT THE LAND AND WATER CONSERVATION FUND

City Parks Alliance and the Mayors for Parks Coalition advocate for permanent reauthorization and full funding of the Land and Water Conservation Fund. City Parks Alliance continues to advocate for reauthorization and full funding for the Land and Water Conservation Fund with a dedicated urban component.
Created in 1965 with strong bi-partisan support, the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) is one of the nation’s most important tools for creating and protecting green space in America’s urban and rural areas.

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City Parks Alliance continues to advocate for permanent reauthorization and full funding for the Land and Water Conservation Fund with a dedicated urban component.

Created in 1965 with strong bi-partisan support, the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) is one of the nation’s most important tools for creating and protecting green space in America’s urban and rural areas.

The LWCF has two key components:

  • The “state side” program takes a ground-up approach by providing matching grants directly to states, counties, and local governments for parks and open space projects.
  • The “federal side” program conserves land for national parks, national rivers and trails, national forests, and national wildlife refuges.

The LWCF is funded primarily through revenues from offshore oil and gas royalties paid by energy companies drilling on the Outer Continental Shelf.  The fund was created with a key principle in mind: use a portion of revenues from the depletion of one natural resource owned by all Americans−offshore oil and gas−to support the conservation of another precious resource: our land and water.

A few key facts about the Land and Water Conservation Fund “state side” program:

  • More than 98% of the counties in the nation have a park funded by the Land and Water Conservation Fund.
  • ‍The $4.1 billion appropriated for the LWCF “state side” grant program has been matched by State and local contributions for a total investment of $8.2 billion—doubling the return on investment.
  • The LWCF “state side” grant program has provided more than 42,000 grants to the 50 states, District of Columbia and the Territories of the United States, benefitting more than 10,800 public agencies.
  • The LWCF supports projects in your backyard. Over the years, 76% of the total grant funds have gone to locally sponsored projects providing close-to-home recreation opportunities.

A Broken Promise

The Land and Water Conservation Fund is not a dedicated “trust fund.” Instead, the funds are set aside for the LWCF for two years and after that they can be diverted to the general treasury and used for other purposes.

  • Only $6.3 billion (or 47%) of the funds set aside for the LWCF has been appropriated for LWCF projects, with the balance diverted to other uses.
  • Over the 47-year history of the program, the LWCF has only been fully appropriated twice.

Read our fact sheets to learn more about how the bi-partisan vision for the Land and Water Conservation Fund has been continually short-changed in the program’s 48-year history:

Land and Water Conservation Fund: A Critical Resource for State and Local Governments to Create Vibrant Cities

ECONOMIC IMPACT of City Parks

City Parks Alliance has released a new report, “A Smart Investment for America’s Economy: The Land and Water Conservation Fund,” which highlights the success stories of the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) in cities across America. The report details how cities are using LWCF grants to create measurable environmental, economic, and public health returns on urban park investments.
DOWNLOAD THE REPORT (8MB PDF)

Since 2000, the number of young, educated adults moving to livable, walkable urban neighborhoods has increased

37%

Job opportunities in the outdoor industry dwarf those in oil & gas.

Oil & Gas Industry

2.1 million jobs

Outdoor Industry

6.1 million jobs

Parks save Philadelphia 14 billion dollars in water management costs.

Gray Infrastructure

$16 billion in costs

Green Infrastucture

$2 billon in costs

HEALTH IMPACT of City Parks

provides an overview of the physical, mental and environmental health benefits provided by urban parks and highlights the important role that LWCF plays in supporting strong, healthy communities across America.
DOWNLOAD THE Health REPORT (3MB PDF)

Maintaining a healthy weight saves

$1,500

per person in healthcare costs a year.

The high yearly costs of chronic diseases in the U.S.

Obesity

$147B

Diabetes

$245B

Heart Disease

$108B

The presence of parks in cities promotes healthy lifestyles that can be one of several factors that mitigate these costs.

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