Congress lets Conservation Fund expire, Carbajal fights for reauthorization

Congress lets Conservation Fund expire, Carbajal fights for reauthorization
By: Debra Herrick | 10/3/2018

The Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) expired on Sunday, Sept. 30, 2018. A public land conservation program, the LWCF has supported over 200 projects throughout Kern, Monterey, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara and Ventura counties since it began in 1965, including the Carpinteria Bluffs and Carpinteria State Beach.

Iconic California public lands such as the Big Sur area of the Los Padres National Forest, Carrizo Plain National Monument, Bitter Creek National Wildlife Refuge, Channel Islands National Park, Montaña de Oro State Park and dozens of other local parks have received over $35 million for land acquisitions, facility developments and park improvements. In 2007, the City of Carpinteria received $171,000 from LWCF to acquire 1.5 acres adjacent to the Bluffs and $300,000 for the Carpinteria State Beach play area development.  

The LWCF receives near-universal public support, according to Los Padres ForestWatch, the local nonprofit watchdog organization. Throughout its 53-year history, the LWCF has helped communities and state agencies acquire or gain access to nearly seven million acres of land for public use and recreation, in 41,000 parks and projects, from urban parks to remote wilderness preserves.


“Many of our national monuments, wildlife preserves and parks owe their existence to the LWCF,” says Rebecca August, public lands advocate for ForestWatch. “If Congress does not renew the act, we will lose a critical tool to build upon our region’s rich heritage of public lands, and over time we risk degrading proper maintenance, protection, and access to our parks and open spaces. Trails will erode or become overgrown, campsites, park facilities and roads and bridges will fall into disrepair, all of which make our parks and wild places less safe and accessible to the public.”

LWCF is primarily funded through offshore oil and gas revenue and matching grants which federal, state and local governments. If the bill is not reauthorized, the revenue will be appropriated by the general treasury, according to ForestWatch. On Wednesday morning, Oct. 3, three days after the LWCF expired, parks across the country had already lost over $6 million in potential funding, according to the LWCF Coalition.

“The LWCF supports critical programs that help underserved and urban communities get outside to hike, camp, fish, play sports, enjoy time with their families and enhance their cultural heritage,” says Graciela Cabello, director of youth and community engagement at ForestWatch. “Allowing this fund to expire will effectively block access to outdoor recreation for generations.”

In a letter to CVN, Congressman Salud Carbajal wrote, “we must keep up the fight to protect our environment. This summer, I joined campers and beachgoers at Carpinteria State Beach … Locals know that this beach has it all—shaded picnic areas, a children’s education center, recreation activities and gorgeous views… Known as the ‘World’s Safest Beach,’ Carpinteria State Beach was developed under the Land and Water Conservation Fund. In addition to preserving this beach for the public, this program has been used to create local parks, athletic fields, and wildlife areas across the country. Each day, American families hike, hunt, fish and play on these protected outdoor spaces.

“LWCF, known as America’s best parks program, helps to create public land projects without using a dime of taxpayer money… That’s why I’m fighting to reauthorize and fully fund LWCF…”


Pointing to several environmental concerns, including clean car standards and offshore oil drilling, Carbajal wrote, “Despite the onslaught attacks on our environmental protections, we must continue fighting for what’s right—our public lands, clean water and air are worth fighting for.”

To learn more about LWCF and/or to write a letter to your congressman visit

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