Land and Water Conservation Fund

Land and Water Conservation Fund

The nation’s bedrock land acquisition program, the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) provides federal funding and state grants for the acquisition of land through annual appropriations approved by Congress and the president.

Since its start in 1965, the Fund has provided more than $13.2 billion to acquire 7 million acres of parks, wildlife refuges, national forest, and other federal public land, along with more than 40,000 grants to state and local governments for acquisition and development of parks and recreation areas. Money for the program comes almost exclusively from revenues from oil and gas production on federally owned waters on the outer continental shelf. 

Congress decides each year how much money to spend on acquisitions, which are chosen by Congress and the four land management agencies in the federal government—the National Park Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and the Bureau of Land Management in the Interior Department, and the U.S. Forest Service, an agency of the Agriculture Department. The National Park Service also oversees a separate state grant program, which gives money to states to buy and develop recreational land and facilities. Congress has authorized spending up to $900 million each year on the LWCF program, but that level has rarely been reached. Since 1998, Congress also has diverted $1.6 billion of LWCF revenue for non–land acquisition purposes. 

LWCF Programs


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