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Funding For Federal Conservation And Recreation Program Still In Limbo

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U.S. Department of Agriculture
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U.S. Department of Agriculture
The Land and Water Conservation Fund, which has protected natural areas and water resources for more than 50 years, expired in September 2018.

Since 1964 the Land and Water Conservation Fund has used royalties from oil and gas leasing to protect natural areas, water resources and cultural heritage, as well as to provide recreation opportunities. The Fund expired at the end of September, but both the House and Senate have proposed bills to permanently reauthorize it so its future doesn't remain in jeopardy.

Mark Squillace, professor at the University of Colorado Law School, said while the fund has historically enjoyed bi-partisan support, it's been hard for this Congress to act on any kind of legislation.

"It may be getting more difficult if we wait until next year because the Republicans will lose control of the House," he said. "With split government, I suppose everything's just a little more difficult."

Squillace believes the fund will be reauthorized, it's just a matter of when and what it will look like.

"Obviously some members of Congress might support a more permanent solution," he said. "Others may be unwilling to do that and so would want something more temporary and of course funding is always an issue."

The LWCF program provides grants to state and local governments and is also used to acquire lands, waters and interests that support federal land management agencies. Below is a list of funding provided to states in the Mountain West.

  • Colorado - Invested about $268 million
  • Idaho - Invested more than $279 million
  • Wyoming - Invested more than $122 million
  • Utah - Invested more than $186 million
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