This March, the president signed into law the permanent reauthorization of the Land and Water Conservation Fund—ensuring this critical conservation tool stays available.
While this represents enormous progress, there remains no guaranteed full funding for the Fund. In its 50-year history, the Fund has only been fully funded twice. Other years, it only received a portion of what it needs. And some years it was completely unfunded.
The Fund is a bipartisan federal program first passed in 1965 that conserves our natural resources at the federal, state, and local levels.
From national and state parks to community trails and historic sites, the Fund works to provide public access and outdoor recreation opportunities—from hunting and angling to hiking and wildlife watching.
Over the years, the Fund has invested more than $200 million into Tennessee’s natural resources.
More than $81 million helped conserve iconic natural areas in the state such as the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Obed Wild and Scenic River, Cherokee National Forest, and Fort Donelson National Battlefield.
Another $73 million were granted to protect Tennessee parks to build, repair, or improve hiking and biking trails, community parks, and historic sites. Additional funds have gone to conserving working forests to prevent further deforestation of Tennessee.
The Federation was able to support passage of the legislation that permanently reauthorized the Fund.
But, for Tennessee and the nation to keep benefiting from the Fund, Congress must provide full and dedicated funding for the program. Yesterday, a bill that would fully and permanently fund the Land and Water Conservation Fund received strong bipartisan support in the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee.
This is a great step in the right direction but there is more work to do, conservation requires slow and steady work. And progress can be slow or even lost when funding is inconsistent.
Tennessee Wildlife Federation and its conservation policy team will continue to fight for full, guaranteed funding of the Land and Water Conservation Fund.
Without funding from the Fund, our cherished landscapes will continue to erode and Tennesseans will lose access to quality public land and waters for outdoor recreation.