Tester to Administration: Include Additional $450 Million for Land and Water Conservation Fund in Annual Budget

Funding would be in addition to $900 million in mandated annual funding for the LWCF

U.S. Senator Jon Tester today was joined by a bipartisan, bicameral group of lawmakers in pushing the Biden Administration to include an additional $450 million in discretionary funding for the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) in the President’s Fiscal Year 2023 budget on top of the $900 million in Congressionally mandated annual funding.

“The [Great American Outdoors Act] left intact the ability of future Congresses to appropriate additional discretionary LWCF funds, and over $22 billion in prior LWCF receipts remain unspent from the LWCF Special Account in the Treasury,” wrote Tester and his colleagues. “Meanwhile, project demand in every state continues to outstrip the level set for the program, with many now-or-never opportunities at risk.”

They continued: “Now is the time for America to make significant progress towards its conservation goals and to avoid loss of sensitive lands and waters. We urge you to consider an investment of $450 million in discretionary funds, in addition to mandatory LWCF funding, be part of the Administration’s next budget proposal to address the numerous ready-to-go project opportunities.”

Tester has been Montana’s most staunch defender of the LWCF. In 2020, Tester pushed his landmark Great American Outdoors Act through Congress and into law, which secured full, mandatory funding for LWCF at $900 million a year, and $9.5 billion to address maintenance backlogs on public lands across the United States. Montana has seen hundreds of millions of dollars supporting LWCF projects to protect public access and wildlife habitat. Recently, Senator Tester secured $1.3 million in LWCF funding to acquire 105.67 acres of land along the north shore of Flathead Lake called Somers Beach for the creation of a new state park as well as an additional $472,500 to help FWP clean up and renovate Westside Park in Missoula.

Established in 1964, the LWCF uses revenues from oil and gas leasing to fund conservation and recreation priorities across the nation. Since its creation, the LWCF has invested millions into Montana’s $7.1 billion outdoor recreation economy.

Tester first sponsored a bill to fully fund the LWCF in 2009, and until recently was the only member of the Montana delegation to support full, mandatory funding for LWCF.

Read Tester’s full letter HERE.