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National Association of State Park Directors

P.O. Box 91567 Raleigh, NC 27675

(919) 218-9222

For Immediate Release

July 14, 2015

Contact: Lewis Ledford
919 218-9222


The Land and Water Conservation Fund, one of Congress most visionary acts, is set to expire. It has
and continues to enjoy bipartisan support. It is time for action, not only to reauthorize LWCF, but restore
its original intent.
Congress created the LWCF in 1965 as a bipartisan commitment to safeguard natural areas, water
resources, and our cultural heritage and provide outdoor recreation opportunities. The act will expire this
September, unless reauthorization occurs.
Of key concern to state parks systems and local governments across the country, as Congress evaluates
LWCFs reauthorization, is the distribution breakdown to address federal and stateside parks and
recreation needs.
Originally, 60 percent of the funds in the LWCF program were specifically designated for state and local
projects. The remaining 40 percent was for federal agency land acquisition. In 1976, LWCF was
changed to remove the 60 percent guarantee of funding for the LWCF State Assistance Program. Since
fiscal year 2004, the state assistance portion of the program has averaged only 12.5 percent of the total
appropriation, while the federal land acquisition and other federal programs have received 87.5 percent
of the funding.
The LWCF State Assistance funds are distinguished and made more effective by an equitable
distribution formula to each state and the requirement of a local dollar-for-dollar match. The LWCF
grants to states support the acquisition and development of state and local parks and recreational
The State Assistance Program, which was founded as a core priority program at the time of the LWCFs
creation, has been especially neglected over the last two decades. It has been the victim of two major
changes to the LWCF Act to not only change the mandatory allocations, but also add new and loosely
defined related purposes as eligible uses for LWCF dollars. These related purposes or new programs
were added to the law in 1997. The additional accounts have effectively squeezed the State Allocation
down to less than 13 percent of total LWCF appropriations since 1998.

Promoting and advancing the state park systems of America for their own significance, as well
as for their important contributions to the nation's environment, heritage, health and economy.

The national priorities publically identified in 1965, 1980, and more recently in 2010 continued to verify
needs within local communities and the states for additional outdoor recreation areas and facilities. The
LWCF Act was designed to create close-to-home recreation opportunities.
While not every community has a national park and their associated benefits, every community has local
outdoor recreation resources. Americas state parks provided wonderful outdoor recreation experiences
and unique historical, scientific and environmental education opportunities to the 739,615,816 people
who visited them last year. People of all ethnic groups, income levels, ages, and abilities use state and
local parks on a daily basis. Those visitors are drawn to many of the natural resources and recreational
opportunities made possible through the partnership created by the LWCF State Assistance Program.
Local parks departments have also notably benefitted from LWCF. Over two-thirds of LWCF State
Assistance projects have been awarded to over 10,800 municipal, county and territorial public agencies
including Native American communities.

The primary source of income to the fund is fees paid to the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management,
Regulation and Enforcement by companies drilling offshore for oil and gas. The original concept was to
use funds generated by the depletion of natural resources to permanently protect other important natural
resources. Congress regularly diverts most of the funds from this source to other purposes, however.
LWCF has been a key reason for the vast diversity of outdoor recreation available in numerous state and
local parks, which owe their very existence to the stateside fund. Furthermore, the annual economic
impact of State Parks exceeds $20 billion to local and state economies. Simply put, state and local parks
provide important contributions to the nation's environment, heritage, health, and economy.
State agencies are strategically positioned to ensure good planning, budgeting and accountability for
LWCF state assistance projects because they are immersed within the states and their local communities.
In 1965, the US population was 194 million. The US Census agency projects the population to reach 321
million this year with fully four-out-of-five Americans living in our larger metropolitan regions. State
and local outdoor recreation opportunities must grow to keep pace with a growing population and
shifting demographics.
Reauthorization of LWCF, with balanced and equitable funding of the State Assistance allocation, will
have great impact today and for future generations in meeting the purposes of the original Act and the
needs of a growing populace.
Restoring the state share consistent with the original intent of the legislation would mean millions more
spent on close to home projects determined by state agencies, in a transparent process, who know best
what local constituents want and need in terms of outdoor recreation. It is estimated that dedicating 60
percent of funds to the state assistance program would more than triple the funds available to local
Lewis Ledford is executive director of the National Association of State Parks Directors and is the
former director of the North Carolina state parks system and state administrator of LWCF.