In Push for Public-Lands Funding, Billboards Ask, “What the LWCF?”

by Suzanne Potter, Nevada News Service

Conservation groups are using billboards like this one in Reno to raise awareness of the Land and Water Conservation Fund, which expired in September. (Get Outdoors Nevada)

LAS VEGAS, Nev. – You may have seen some unusual billboards around the state this week – that ask “What the LWCF?”

Hear an audio report from Suzanne Potter …

It’s a reference to a program that funds local recreation projects and public-lands access around the country. In September, Congress allowed the Land and Water Conservation Fund to lapse for the first time since its inception 63 years ago.

Mauricia Baca, with the nonprofit Get Outdoors Nevada, says it has funded dozens of local projects over the years.

“Since 1965 it’s $102 million that have been invested in parks and recreation projects in Nevada,” says Baca. “Places like Red Rock Canyon, O’Callaghan Park in Henderson, Freedom Park in Las Vegas, Veteran’s Memorial Park in Boulder City, and many more.”

More than a dozen local Nevada businesses have signed a letter to the state’s congressional delegation, asking them to support reauthorization and full funding of the LWCF.

The program isn’t taxpayer-funded – it uses revenue from offshore oil and gas leases. The Trump administration has twice proposed to redirect millions from the fund to other priorities.

Baca says public lands and local parks improve the economy and boost quality of life for everyone – and should not be controversial.

“At the end of the day, we’re hoping that Congress can get past whatever partisan issues are holding this up and just do the right thing, and help our local areas take care of their parks and trails,” says Baca. “It’s as simple as that.”

In Congress, Senate Bill 896 would permanently reauthorize the LWCF and direct 10 percent of the funding toward additional access to public lands for recreation and sportsmen.