USGS to grant states $43M for outdoor developments through Land, Water Conservation Fund

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FORT WORTH, TX, July 11, 2014 -- On Tuesday, July 8, Secretary of Interior Sally Jewell joined Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price, co-chair of the bipartisan coalition of Mayors for Parks, to announce that $43.38 million will be distributed from the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) to all 50 States, the Territories, and the District of Columbia for state-identified outdoor recreation and conservation projects.

The LWCF was established by Congress in 1964 to ensure access to outdoor recreation resources for present and future generations, and to provide money to federal, state and local governments to purchase land, water and wetlands for the benefit of all Americans. The primary source of revenue for the Fund is from federal oil and gas leases on the Outer Continental Shelf.

The funds enable state and local governments to establish everything from baseball fields to community green spaces; provide public access to rivers, lakes and other water resources; expand the interpretation of historic and cultural sites; and conserve natural landscapes for public outdoor recreation use and enjoyment.

The Secretary's visit to Fort Worth's Gateway Park was part of a weeklong series of events across the country by Administration officials to highlight the LWCF's successes on its 50th anniversary. President Obama has called for full, permanent funding in his proposed budget, recognizing the Fund as one of the nation's most effective tools for creating and protecting urban parks and open spaces for kids to play and learn.

Jewell cited Gateway Park in Fort Worth as a prime example of how the LWCF can improve the quality of life for local residents. The State of Texas has leveraged funding through the program to make Gateway Park a prime destination for recreation, with equestrian, hiking and biking trails; soccer fields; a canoe and kayak launch; and a fishing pier. The projects are part of $179 million in state and local assistance grants made to Texas since 1964.

Only once in the past 50 years has Congress appropriated LWCF funding at the full authorized level of $900 million, and the program is set to expire without action from Congress. President Obama's budget request includes a legislative proposal to establish dedicated mandatory funding for LWCF programs, with full funding at $900 million beginning in 2015.

Jewell emphasized that LWCF grants boost local economies and support jobs in the outdoor recreation and tourism industries. A recent analysis of the Fund found that every $1 invested in land acquisition generated a $4 return on the investment for communities. Since the inception of the LWCF, over $4 billion has been made available to state and local governments, and over 40,000 projects have been funded in every state throughout the nation. For more information, please visit www.nps.gov/lwcf.

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