Across our beautiful nation, we have millions of acres of land that are protected due to the Land and Water Conservation Fund.
The Land and Water Conservation Fund is a federal program that funds the protection of various natural spaces and natural wonders for the purpose of outdoor recreation, sustainability, and ethical environmental practices. The funding is overseen by numerous federal departments and organizations.
Throughout our nation’s history, Americans have marveled over the awe-inspiring natural beauty that covers our lands. While our environment has always left an impression on us, it’s only after the industrial revolution that people began to truly hold value in conserving and preserving nature. The establishment of the Land and Water Conservation Fund was a major leap in protecting our lands.
Since the program officially began in 1965, organizations such as the National Wildlife Federation and the National Parks Conservation Association have praised the Land and Water Conservation Fund as being a crucial source of funding for maintaining and protecting our environment nationwide.
The Land and Water Conservation Fund encompasses such a wide variety of governmental organizations and departments that there is practically no federal or state environmental program that isn’t tied to it in one way or another.
The funding from this program has helped save countless species, protected millions of acres of land, and has ingrained environmental values in our society, which have become a major part of our culture and our way of life.
A crucial aspect of this fund is that it receives the majority of its money from offshore oil and drilling; minimizing its reliance on taxpayer dependency. These funds are then dispersed across the country to support existing programs and to create new ones. There isn’t a single county in any state that hasn’t benefited from the financial backing of the Land and Water Conservation Fund towards its local environment.
Since its launch in 1965, the program has funded over 42,000 projects and has contributed billions of dollars towards protecting wildlife, forests, and virtually all of our most iconic natural wonders.
The Land and Water Conservation Fund saw a major increase in financial support from the federal government in 2019, which ensures all of us that the program isn’t going anywhere and that Americans value its environmental contribution as much now as they did when it was first initiated.
Environmental Programs and Institutions
The Land and Water Conservation Fund is praised as being one of the most fundamental federal programs ever created by the government to aid and protect our environment.
Its funding is felt throughout the nation and has enabled all of us to have nature be an attainable luxury in our day-to-day lives.
Let’s dive into some of the programs and institutions that benefit from the fund.
The majority of our nation’s most iconic and mesmerizing natural wonders can be found at our National Parks.
The funds from the Land and Water Conservation Fund are essential for protecting and maintaining these incredible places. While the National Parks Service approaches our environment with minimal human involvement, there are a number of critical roles the service provides, which rely on funding to implement.
- Trail maintenance
- Creating new trails
- Land surveying
- Wildlife management
- Pollution control
Proper management of our national parks requires these essential services to be routine. This enables all of us to experience these beautiful parks and at the same time creates thousands of jobs for park staff.
Throughout the United States, we have almost 200 million acres of protected lands that are classified as National Forest. The land on National Forest is considered to be public land and is owned by the federal government.
The Land and Water Conservation Fund is a major contributor towards protecting these lands and ensuring they stay free of development.
Aside from the opportunity for outdoor recreational activities, these lands can be used for hassle-free camping nationwide - without the need for a permit or registration.
The protection of our National Forest helps secure the livelihood of indigenous species, wildlife, and contributes to fighting climate change by preserving oxygen generating plant life.
Throughout the country, we have countless public parks for people to casually enjoy on a daily basis.
These parks are often modest in comparison to the natural treasures we have scattered around the nation but are still a refuge for those that want to have some form of nature be accessible in their lives.
The Land and Water Conservation Fund has enabled the creation and regular maintenance of these parks and opens the opportunity for new ones to be created. By doing so, the natural state of the land prior to human interference is preserved to a degree and the negative environmental impact is mitigated.
In addition, public parks are protected areas that prevent potential development projects that are invasive to local species.
Wildlife & Habitat Protection
With the combined efforts of various organizations tied to the Land and Water Conservation Fund, so much of our nation’s wildlife is being protected.
To combat the staggering decline of species after mass industrialization, Americans and state and federal governments began to take direct action towards preventing the future endangerment of wildlife and their habitats.
Fundamental organizations such as the Wilderness Society and the National Wildlife Fund help oversee the health of species across the entire nation. The funding they receive from the Land and Water Conservation Fund enables these organizations to exist and pay for jobs that create roles for ecologists to go out into the field.
Ecologists are then able to study and assess local environments, create environmental impact reports, and then allocate funds towards a sustainable approach to aid the species and habitat of the area in a beneficial way.
Hunting and Fishing
A favorite American pastime and a cultural staple of our society is to go out on hunting and fishing trips. This hobby is a great way to experience the outdoors and is also a viable solution for getting one’s food.
However, without oversight, this hobby can easily become a destructive and unsound environmental practice. That’s why the Land and Water Conservation Fund designates some of its annual budget towards responsible hunting and fishing practice.
By allocating designated regions and areas for hunting and fishing, we are able to prevent habitat destruction and the decline of species.
Organizations like the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service regulate the activity of designated areas to ensure that fisherman and hunters are practicing their hobby responsibly. In addition, the organization monitors the population of species and sets annual reports and restrictions for the amount a hunter or fisherman can take home per license.
We tend to view nature in our society purely as something that exists for our own enjoyment. While nothing could be further from the truth, it’s also important to remember that nature is also a major contributor to our economy.
That’s why the finances provided by the Land and Water Conservation Fund can in so many ways be viewed as an investment.
Let’s take a look at how the fund boosts our economy.
The funding that flows into organizations and institutions backed by the Land and Water Conservation Fund supports millions of jobs in the United States.
With 1 and 20 jobs being linked to departments connected to the fund, it’s an absolutely vital source for money being pumped into our economy.
Our national and state parks, hunting and fishing licenses, and other recreational activities have amounted to over 500 billion dollars in economic growth on an annual basis.
There are many reasons millions of tourists flock to the United States each year and one of the highlights for so many is to experience our nature.
Our nation’s National Parks are a calling for international tourists, which ends up being a major contributor towards strengthening our economy.
Tourism benefits businesses all over the country and also increases the amount of traffic we get in our natural wonders. While not all money linked to programs associated with the Land and Water Conservation Fund comes from tourism, it’s estimated that we receive upwards of 1.5 trillion dollars from tourism annually.
The investment from this critical environmental fund enables a platform for tourism to appreciate the beauty of our country and at the same time support its economy in the process.
About THE AUTHOR
James Parker has a Masters degree in Sustainability with a focus on land management, permaculture and regenerative agriculture. He also has experience managing sustainability projects, and is passionate about conservation and sustainability.Read More About James Parker