The LAND Act
The LAND Act
In February 2019, Congressman Mike Simpson (R-ID) and Congressman Derek Kilmer (D-WA) introduced the Land and National Park Deferred Maintenance (LAND) Act. The legislation would permanently reauthorize the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF), create a new dedicated fund to address the Department of the Interior’s deferred maintenance backlog, and provide ten years of mandatory funding derived from energy revenues for both programs.
“Conserving land and water is vitally important to ensuring access to our public lands,” said Congressman Mike Simpson. “However, ensuring we take care of public lands is equally important. That is why I am proposing a solution that honors the commitment to the Land and Water Conservation Fund while creating a new fund to help our National Parks, and other land managers, address the maintenance backlog. These lands belong to all Americans and we owe it to ourselves to take care of them. This reasonable approach ensures we have the resources to conserve and maintain our treasured landscapes.”
“Growing up on the Olympic Peninsula, I’ve seen firsthand how our National Park and public lands have captivated visitors and created generations of jobs,” said Congressman Derek Kilmer. “But unfortunately, many of our most iconic landscapes and visitor experiences are falling into disrepair. I’m proud to join this bipartisan effort that will be an economic boost to rural communities and keep our public lands accessible for future generations.”
The LWCF was established in 1964 to reinvest a small percentage of offshore oil and gas royalty payments in conservation projects to enhance access to our nation’s iconic outdoor spaces. Since it was first created, the LWCF has invested more than $18 billion in projects that support environmental stewardship, outdoor recreation, and historic preservation. The LAND Act would permanently reauthorize LWCF, which expired last year, and authorize $450 million annually in mandatory expenditures for the next decade.
The bill would also authorize $450 million in mandatory expenditures annually for ten years to fund the National Park Service and Related Agencies Maintenance and Revitalization Conservation Fund. The current Department of Interior maintenance backlog, which includes National Parks, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Refuges, Bureau of Land Management, and Bureau of Indian Education school construction, totals more than $18 billion.
“There’s overwhelming bipartisan support for making this long-overdue investment in the aging infrastructure within our national parks and public lands,” said Marcia Argust, director of The Pew Charitable Trusts’ project to restore America’s parks. “The legislation will help preserve historic treasures, protect visitor access, and sustain local economies and jobs.”
“Hunters and anglers are proud to support the bipartisan LAND Act, which sets aside funding to increase public access for outdoor recreation,” said Whit Fosburgh, president and CEO of the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership. “This bill supports the permanent authorization of the successful Land and Water Conservation Fund and begins to address the massive maintenance backlog in our national parks. We want to thank Congressmen Simpson and Kilmer for their commitment to sportsmen and women across this country, and we look forward to advancing these priorities.”
“The Land and Water Conservation Fund is our most effective, successful program for conserving important lands and waters and providing public access great places to hunt, fish and recreate,” said Land Tawney, Backcountry Hunters & Anglers President and CEO. “The bipartisan bill introduced by Representatives Simpson and Kilmer not only reauthorizes LWCF; it also increases to 3 percent funding earmarked for enhancing hunting and fishing opportunities on public lands. It’s consistent with other LWCF-focused legislation being considered, and Representatives Simpson and Kilmer deserve thanks for their leadership in addressing LWCF and the public land agencies’ maintenance backlog in a productive way.”
“Our National Parks and public lands are a unique attraction for travelers, both international and domestic. The LAND ACT, which will permanently reauthorize the Land and Water Conservation Fund and provide capital to address deferred maintenance at our National Parks, will help to ensure travelers have reliable and consistent access to our national parks," said Tori Barnes, Senior Vice President, Government Relations at the U.S. Travel Association. "We applaud Rep. Kilmer and Rep. Simpson for recognizing our national parks as a unique asset.”
“For years, our national parks have been dealing with a mounting backlog of repair needs, from crumbling roads and visitor centers, to outdated water systems built during World War II."Kristen Brengel, Vice President for Government Affair at National Parks Conservation Association states, "the LAND Act provides a dedicated investment to the important Land and Water Conservation Fund and provides a down payment to address the $11.6 billion in repair needs facing our national parks. Both have been priorities for National Parks Conservation Association and would provide our parks with the support and funding they need to improve and preserve these places for generations to come. We commend Congressmen Simpson and Kilmer for being stalwart, bipartisan champions for our parks.”