Background The Land and Water Conservation Fund The Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) was established by Congress in 1964 to create parks and open spaces; protect wilderness, wetlands, and refuges; preserve wildlife habitat; and enhance recreational opportunities. From parks to playgrounds, wilderness to wetlands, bicycle paths to hiking trails, LWCF has helped communities nationwide acquire nearly seven million acres of parkland, water resources and open space. LWCF has also underwritten the development of more than 38,000 state and local park and recreation projects in nearly every county in the nation. The need for a mechanism like LWCF first became apparent in the 1950s, when a shortfall in federal funding threatened to limit protection for places where Americans could experience and enjoy the outdoors. In 1962, President Eisenhower’s Outdoor Recreation Resources Review Commission recommended that Congress should establish a source of funding to safeguard important natural areas and provide outdoor recreation opportunities for all Americans. In 1965 the Land and Water Conservation Fund (P.L. 88-578) was enacted into law, and since has been authorized to continue through 2015. Congress in 1968 made offshore federal oil and gas drilling lease revenues the primary source to fund LWCF, and in 1977 increased the amount of funds available to up to $900 million per year. Congress has an uneven history of annual LWCF appropriations, seldom reaching the fully authorized amount of $900 million. LWCF monies are apportioned to the states by the Secretary of the Interior each fiscal year in accordance with the apportionment formula contained in the LWCF Act. In Colorado, annual apportionments have ranged from $0 (1996-1999) to nearly $5.4 million in 1979. In recent years, Colorado’s annual allocation has been approximately $1.5 million. The Land and Water Conservation Fund has two components:
In Colorado, the state matching grants program is administered by Colorado State Parks. The current policy of the Colorado Board of Parks and Outdoor Recreation is to divide the annual Colorado apportionment 50/50 between projects sponsored by eligible local governments and projects sponsored by Colorado State Parks. To learn more about the LWCF grant process in Colorado, visit the LWCF grants link.
Become familiar with Colorado's Land and Water Rules and Regulations. Further information about the Land and Water Conservation Fund can be found on the National Park Service Web site.