Tester Pushes for $900 Million to Fully Fund Land & Water Conservation Fund

Senator is only member of Montana delegation to consistently request full authorization amount for critical conservation program

(U.S. Senate) – After the House Interior and Environment Appropriations Subcommittee advanced legislation this week that funds the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) at $524 million next year, U.S. Senator Jon Tester is urging the Senate Appropriations Committee to fund LWCF at the fully authorized amount of $900 million, rather than the modest plus-ups that have nickel-and-dimed the program each year.

“The House bill’s modest increase in LWCF funding over last year is certainly better than the Trump Administration’s proposed plan to completely cancel funding for this critical program,” Tester said. “But I am committed to fully funding LWCF at $900 million. There is strong bipartisan support for this program in Congress, which is a rarity, and I believe we need to use that momentum to shift the conversation from a modest increase to full mandatory funding.”

Tester, continuing his longtime commitment to preserving Montana’s public lands, recently introduced bipartisan legislation to fully and permanently fund LWCF, which is authorized to receive up to $900 million annually, for generations to come. For years, Tester was the only member of the Montana delegation to support full, permanent funding for LWCF.

Since it was established in 1965, LWCF has only been fully funded twice. Tester recently slammed the President and his cheerleaders for proposing a 98 percent cut to LWCF funding in his fiscal year 2020 budget the day before signing a landmark public lands package into law that included permanent authorization for the program.

Tester also led a bipartisan letter, signed by 23 of his colleagues, demanding the Senate Appropriations Committee fund LWCF at the fully authorized amount of $900 million this year.

“As you begin the process of drafting the FY2020 Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies Appropriations bill, we urge you to continue to increase this crucial investment toward the fully authorized amounts,” Tester and colleagues wrote in the letter. “…Continued investments in these programs help our nation’s outdoor recreation, conservation and preservation economy, which supports millions of American jobs and contributes billions of dollars annually to the entire U.S. economy.”

LWCF is funded through offshore oil and gas development revenue and has invested more than $540 million to support Montana’s $7.1 billion outdoor recreation economy over the last 50 years. Tester is the only member of Montana’s Congressional delegation who has consistently supported permanent authorization and full funding for the initiative.

Tester originally introduced the Land and Water Conservation Authorization and Funding Act in 2009 to permanently reauthorize and fully fund the critical conservation initiative and has reintroduced it every Congress since:

Tester successfully fought to secure $425 million in funding for the LWCF in the March 2018 budget bill after the Trump Administration pushed to gut the program. He was the only member of Montana’s delegation to vote for this funding. He then secured an additional $10 million in LWCF funding in the February appropriations package, bringing the total to $435 million for 2019.

Read the full letter HERE.