Protecting Lands and Giving Back to Communities

The Land and Water Conservation Fund was established by Congress in 1964 to fulfill a bipartisan commitment to safeguard our natural areas, water resources and cultural heritage, and to provide recreation opportunities to all Americans. Using zero taxpayer dollars, the fund invests earnings from offshore oil and gas leasing to help strengthen communities, preserve our history and protect our national endowment of lands and waters. (

The Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) is intended to create and maintain a nationwide legacy of high quality recreation areas and facilities and to stimulate non-federal investments in the protection and maintenance of recreation resources across the United States. Initially authorized for a 25-year period, the LWCF was extended for another 25 years and expired September 30, 2015. The fund was temporarily extended for 3 years in the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2016, and will expire September 30, 2018.

For discussion purposes, the LWCF program can be divided into the "State side"-- that is grants to State and local governments, and the "Federal side" -- the Federal portion of the LWCF that is used to acquire lands, waters, and interests therein necessary to achieve the natural, cultural, wildlife, and recreation management objectives of the NPS and other federal land management agencies. LWCF Civil War Battlefield Acquisition Grants are also provided to help States and local communities acquire and preserve threatened Civil War battlefield land.