Threat To Public Lands Conservation Program May Lie In Its Obscurity

Originally published on August 23, 2018 5:16 pm

The Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) may be the most successful, and little-known, conservation program. That obscurity could contribute to it's downfall. 

The program has generated close to $4 billion over the years by using earnings from offshore oil and gas leases to acquire, support and manage public lands — everything from national parks to local city playgrounds.

If it’s not reauthorized by Congress next month that funding could go away.

John Gale is the conservation director with the public lands advocacy group Backcountry Hunters and Anglers. He said in the past there wasn’t a big need to tell people about it.

“We’ve been using that program to do good things for over 50 years and it’s been so well supported the entire time that no one possibly ever conceived that it would be in jeopardy," Gale said.

Money for the LWCF was reauthorized three years ago but Gale is concerned that with this current Congress continued funding is not a done deal.

The conservation group Center for Western Priorities just released a map showing LWCF projects that are in process, which the group says would be affected if the fund is not reauthorized.

This story was produced by the Mountain West News Bureau, a collaboration between Wyoming Public Media, Boise State Public Radio in Idaho, Yellowstone Public Radio in Montana, KUER in Salt Lake City and KRCC and KUNC in Colorado.

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