Why the Land and Water Conservation Fund Still Matters Today

September 1, 2015, Department, by Barbara Tulipane, CAE

NRPA President and CEO Barbara Tulipane, CAEWhile we celebrate NRPA’s 50th anniversary during 2015, there is another important anniversary that has much significance for NRPA and every person who works in or benefits from the field of parks, recreation and conservation — the 50th anniversary of the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF).  

No other federal legislation during the past half-century has been as effective for the cause of conservation, parks and recreation than the LWCF. None. LWCF has been responsible for: 


  • The acquisition and protection of 7 million acres of open space.
  • Providing funding for more than 40,000 parks, recreation facilities and playgrounds built across the United States.
  • Serving as the lynchpin for leveraging matching expenditures by local and state governments in 98 percent of U.S. counties and territories.
  • Protecting parks in perpetuity.


Everyone agrees that if the LWCF never existed, America’s conservation and recreation landscape would not look anything like it does today.  But, alarmingly, this important legislation will expire on September 30 if Congress does not reauthorize it. That’s right —  even though LWCF has done so much to protect our nation’s natural resources it will cease to exist if Congress does not act.  

Some argue that after 50 years, the LWCF has accomplished its purpose and as a result, our need for open space and parks and recreation facilities has been satisfied. While we agree that LWCF has helped to acquire land for thousands of parks and recreation facilities, our needs still remain great. PRORAGIS data, for example, show that local parks and recreation have a capital construction need that exceeds $71 billion dollars!

If you believe in what we do and the cause for which we stand, there has never been a more important time to call or email your members of Congress. Tell  them, “Permanently reauthorize the LWCF and provide full, guaranteed funding for this program which is so important to me, my family and my community.” 

Click here to find information about how to contact your congressional representative or senator. You can also help highlight the unmet need in your community by hosting your congressional representative at a park or facility developed with the support of the State Assistance Program. Click here to learn more about NRPA’s Park Champions initiative.