The Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) provides millions of dollars in funding for trail projects in the US each year, and it’s helped create many iconic trail systems around the country. The program costs zero dollars in taxpayer funds (more on that below) but must be renewed by Congress each year. With the September 30 deadline approaching, politicians in Washington are holding this year’s authorization hostage.
What is the LWCF?
According to the US Department of the Interior,
The Land and Water Conservation Fund was established by Congress in 1964 to fulfill a bipartisan commitment to safeguard our natural areas, water resources and cultural heritage, and to provide recreation opportunities to all Americans. Using zero taxpayer dollars, the fund invests earnings from offshore oil and gas leasing to help strengthen communities, preserve our history and protect our national endowment of lands and waters.
There’s a lot of money on the line here — $900 million is authorized by the act — but Congress has only authorized the full amount once. But even a fraction of $900 million can and does go a long way.
The money is distributed in grants to state and local groups who purchase land, build trails, and protect the environment.
How you can help
The International Mountain Bike Association (IMBA) has set up an online form that makes it easy to contact your representative about reauthorizing the LWCF. There’s some boilerplate text provided, but as always, it helps if you can customize your letter and make it unique.
While the deadline for funding expiration is September 30, it’s important to get your feedback in as soon as possible.
You know, because government stuff takes time.