A bipartisan group of U.S. Senators, led in part by West Virginia Democratic Senator Joe Manchin, have introduced a bill that would permanently fund a popular land conservation program that has provided money for conservation and recreation access in 54 of West Virginia’s 55 counties.
If passed, the Land and Water Conservation Fund Permanent Funding Act would permanently fund the Land and Water Conservation Fund, or LWCF, at $900 million annually.
The program uses revenues from offshore oil and gas drilling for conservation at federal, state, and local parks, forests and wilderness areas and to increase recreation access. More than $240 million from the LWCF have been invested in West Virginia over the course of the program’s 50-year history.
Places such as Harpers Ferry National Historical Park, the Gauley River National Recreation Area and the Canaan Valley National Wildlife Refuge have benefited from LWCF funding.
Earlier this year, the president signed a bill that permanently authorizes the program, but Congress still needs to appropriate money to the fund.
Manchin introduced the bill along with and Sen. Cory Gardner, a Republican from Colorado. If passed, the bill would bypass Congress’ budget process and automatically place $900 million into the fund each year.
In a press release, Manchin said funding for the LWCF is crucial to “continue to preserve, protect and invest in our public lands.”