Tester Backs LWCF Full Funding Efforts, Slams Congressional Leadership for ‘unwillingness to get it across the finish line’

Senator calls on Majority Leader McConnell to pass funding into law

Continuing his years-long fight for the full $900 million in authorized funding for the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF), U.S. Senator Jon Tester is backing a bipartisan provision to do just that, while calling on Congressional leadership to step up and pass it.

“For a vital program critical to Montana’s $7.1 billion outdoor economy, anything less than the full $900 million authorized for LWCF is not enough,” Tester said. “The Senate could fully and permanently fund LWCF tomorrow, if Majority Leader Mitch McConnell stepped up to the plate. Instead this program continues to languish below its authorized levels because of leadership’s unwillingness to get it across the finish line.”

Last month, Tester defended Montana’s outdoor heritage and called on Congressional leaders in both parties to fully fund LWCF as they set their 2020 federal funding priorities, calling this a “historic opportunity” to reach the landmark conservation program’s full potential to expand access to public lands for future generations.

Established in 1964, the LWCF is a critical conservation tool that uses revenues from oil and gas leasing to fund conservation and recreation priorities across the nation. Congress permanently reauthorized the program this year, but it has yet to be funded at an acceptable level. President Trump proposed cutting the LWCF budget by 98 percent this spring, and the House Interior and Environment Appropriations Subcommittee set its funding at just $524 million – less than two-thirds of the authorized $900 million.

Since its creation, the LWCF has invested more than $540 million into Montana’s $7.1 billion outdoor recreation economy. 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, and he was the only member of Montana’s delegation to vote for that funding. He then secured an additional $10 million in LWCF funding in the February appropriations package, bringing the total to $435 million for 2019.

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: