Bennet Introduces Bill to Permanently Authorize, Fully Fund Land and Water Conservation Fund

Helps Drive Outdoor Recreation Economy and Support Millions of Jobs

Washington, D.C. - Colorado U.S. Senator Michael Bennet joined a bipartisan group of Senators to introduce legislation that permanently authorizes and fully funds the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF), which conserves and promotes access to America's parks, rivers, forests, and public lands.

"Access to Colorado's open spaces is critical to our thriving outdoor recreation economy," Bennet said. "The LWCF has supported hundreds of projects across Colorado, from protecting the Ophir Valley to expanding and improving the Animas River Trail to providing Denver kids with outdoor educational opportunities in their own neighborhoods. Its permanent reauthorization and full funding would ensure that these widely-supported projects continue in the future."

Outdoor recreation drives economic growth, creates jobs, and produces significant revenues for local communities. The Land and Water Conservation Fund is the key federal investment in a sector that has supported more than 6 million American jobs and contributes $600 billion annually to our nation's economy. Colorado has received more than $275 million in LWCF funding over the past five decades.

The LWCF, established in 1965, funds the purchase and development of parks, wildlife refuges, and recreation resources of federal, state, and local lands and facilities. The program provides funding for additions to national parks, national forests and other federal public lands. The state component of the program provides matching grants to states and local communities for investments in facilities, such as parks and trails. In 2015, Congress extended the program's authorization for only three years. This legislation would permanently authorize and fully fund the program for future generations.

"For generations sportsmen have benefited from the Land and Water Conservation Fund through enhanced public hunting and fishing access and the conservation of fish and wildlife habitat," said Tim Brass, Colorado State Policy Director of Backcountry Hunters & Anglers, State Policy Director. "From world-class public waterfowl hunting in the Baca National Wildlife Refuge to renowned trout fishing on gold medal waters in the Gunnison Gorge, longstanding bipartisan support of LWCF has helped conserve a vast array of public lands and outdoor opportunities in Colorado. We thank Senator Bennet for working to permanently reauthorize and fully fund one of America's most important public access and conservation programs."

"The Land and Water Conservation Fund has played a critical role in protecting and enhancing our great outdoors here in Colorado" said Jeremy Garncarz, Senior Director of The Wilderness Society Durango. "From our local community parks to Mesa Verde National Park and the national forests throughout the state where we take our children to hike and camp and learn to hunt and fish, the Land and Water Conservation Fund has provided us with so many great opportunities and has helped preserve Colorado's history and way of life. We are grateful for Senator Bennet's leadership on working to ensure this important conservation tool continues to exist in the future."

Click HERE for the full text of the bill.