Jon Bilous via Shutterstock

Our Campaigns

The Great American Outdoors Act

We helped save one of our nation’s best conservation and recreation programs, the Land and Water Conservation Fund.
From the Grand Canyon to local hiking trails, our public lands are a big part of what makes this country so great. These wild forests, mountains, lakes and prairies are home to important ecosystems and wildlife. They’re where we go to spend time outdoors with our families and friends to hike, bike, fish and see wildlife.
For most Americans, the idea that we’ve found some places so special, sacred even, that we made sure they would be protected forever, is one of our proudest achievements. And with the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF), we’ve been able to do just that.
LWCF is America’s premier conservation and recreation program. For more than 50 years, it has protected millions of acres of irreplaceable lands across the country, including national parks, wildlife refuges, forests, lakes, rivers, trails, state parks, community parks, Little League fields and more.
  • <h6 style='color:#ccc; font-size:80%;'>The Land and Water Conservation Fund<br><span style='color:#eee;'>QUICK FACTS</span></h6><h4>LWCF has funded more than 42,000 grants to protect lands and waters in every state and almost every county across the country.</h4>
  • <h6 style='color:#ccc; font-size:80%;'>The Land and Water Conservation Fund<br><span style='color:#eee;'>QUICK FACTS</span></h6><h4>LWCF is supposed to receive $900 million of offshore drilling royalties every year.</h4>
  • <h6 style='color:#ccc; font-size:80%;'>The Land and Water Conservation Fund<br><span style='color:#eee;'>QUICK FACTS</span></h6><h4>Until 2020, Congress routinely failed to give LWCF its full funding, historically giving the program only half of the $900 million it was supposed to receive each year. Now, the program is fully funded for good.</h4>
  • <h6 style='color:#ccc; font-size:80%;'>The Land and Water Conservation Fund<br><span style='color:#eee;'>QUICK FACTS</span></h6><h4>There is overwhelming public support for LWCF — 85 percent of people support full funding of LWCF.</h4>
LWCF funds playgrounds and ballfields, too.
What is the Land and Water Conservation Fund?

LWCF uses royalties from environmentally damaging practices (think offshore oil and gas drilling), and puts the money to pro-environment use — funding federal, state and local efforts to protect our environment. These projects include everything from purchasing land for conservation to maintaining local hiking trails and campgrounds, and LWCF has funded at least one project in almost every county of every state across the country.

Despite LWCF’s many successes, we still lose about two football fields worth of nature per minute in this country. We knew that we could do more to protect nature if LWCF wasn’t chronically underfunded. Throughout most of its history, less than half of the money allocated into the fund was appropriated by Congress, leading to a $22 billion shortfall.

It has also long been the responsibility of Congress to periodically reauthorize LWCF’s existence. But, when it failed to do so in September 2018, LWCF was set to expire. Our Conservation team immediately went to work.

Our advocates and organizers set out to persuade then-Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke to save LWCF. We generated media across the country to tell the public about this vital, but expired, fund. A few months later, a bipartisan deal was struck to reauthorize the program. Our attention quickly shifted to making sure the program would also be fully funded.

The Great American Outdoors Act

For more than a year, our advocates continued to educate the public and decision-makers about the need to fully fund the program. We gathered photo petitions from supporters across the country and held events in LWCF-funded parks.

In early 2020, our work to elevate this issue helped lead to the introduction of the Great American Outdoors Act.

Last year our members put up lawn signs to show their support for reauthorizing LWCF.

The movement in Congress to fully fund LWCF had begun to coalesce behind a bill called the Great American Outdoors Act, which would not only give LWCF full and permanent funding, but would also fund a backlog of long-overdue maintenance projects on our public lands.

In the summer of 2020, Congress passed the legislation with bipartisan support, and the Great American Outdoors Act was signed into law by the president.