Late-Breaking Good News in Land Conservation Funding

This week we’re celebrating major successes for the Land and Water Conservation Fund and Land for Maine’s Future program, thanks to the sustained actions of AMC, our partners, and many members and supporters.

The Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) won a hard-fought battle on December 15, nearly three months after Congressional inaction allowed our nation’s most important source of conservation funding to expire for the first time in 50 years.

Although the fight for permanent reauthorization and full funding continues, LWCF has received a three-year extension through 2018 as part of the federal fiscal year 2016 (FY16) spending bill. It provides $450 million in LWCF appropriations for FY16—giving new life to critical projects whose futures were at stake—and includes up to $10 million for the Highlands Conservation Act (HCA) program and $62.3 million for Forest Legacy. Overall, LWCF received significantly more than the approximately $300 million in LWCF funding that was appropriated last year, and it’s the first year of full funding for the HCA program.

A widely supported, bipartisan program, LWCF helps protect lands, forests, and trails across the U.S. at no cost to taxpayers through a small portion of offshore oil and gas leasing revenues.

Adding to this victory, on December 14 Maine Governor Paul LePage announced that he would release $5 million in Land for Maine’s Future (LMF) bond money, which he had been refusing to release despite the fact that the bonds had been approved by voters. An additional $6.5 million, approved by voters in 2010, expired in November. Governor LePage has committed to releasing those funds as well if the Legislature passes an extension, and it is now up to the Legislature to do so.

Many thanks to AMC’s members and supporters who have reached out to their elected officials to express the importance of these programs! 

AMC’s region is home to elected officials from both sides of the aisle that work relentlessly to support our natural resources and recreational access. Bipartisan support was key to accomplishing both of these conservation victories.

Negotiations around the Federal omnibus spending bill were particularly difficult, and we were fortunate to have so many Congressional champions on our team. Their hard work is truly appreciated, and their efforts will continue to be key to ensuring permanent reauthorization and full funding for LWCF in the future. Many, many thanks to all of them!

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