Finally, a victory everyone can agree on.
In early September, U.S. Secretary of the Interior David Bernhardt announced more than $170 million in federal grants would be allocated to shore up the nation’s outdoor recreation areas and national parks. What’s more, the awards are set to come from the Land and Water Conservation Fund, a federal initiative funded entirely by offshore oil and gas leases.
Initially founded in 1964, the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) has seen approximately $4.4 billion in funds spent on more than 43,000 state and municipal projects across the United States.
Announcing the grants, Secretary Bernhardt said, “Using zero taxpayer dollars, LWCF invests earnings from offshore oil and gas leasing to help rehabilitate and improve infrastructure at state and local parks and other recreation areas. Funds will also be used to maximize access by opening up landlocked public lands. A small investment in a little strip of land can open up thousands of acres to outdoor recreation enthusiasts.”
National Park Service acting Deputy Director for Operations David Vela echoed the Secretary’s remarks at a speech on September 5 when he proclaimed, “Investing in high quality outdoor recreation space has proven to increase the public’s physical, cultural, and spiritual well-being.”
The money will be spread across all 50 states, five U.S. territories and the District of Columbia, though individual state governments will ultimately decide where the money ends up. The bulk of the fund (around $14 million) will head to California. Texas is taking home the second most money with a $9 million grant. Of all the U.S. states, it was Vermont that took home the least at $1.4 million.
Of course, since the edict was announced by a conservative administration, you can just guess who found themselves utterly irritated by the news.
Nobody. Literally, no one.
In fact, the only aggravation surrounding the federal grants is coming from those who disagree on how it should be spent. Local leaders in San Diego are already lobbying state representatives for the funds necessary to clean up local beaches.
For their part, leaders on the federal level expressed their joy that this year’s round of federal grants wouldn’t be the last thanks to a piece of legislation that funded the LWCF for the foreseeable future.