Today, Interior Secretary Bernhardt took credit for allocating small state matching grants under the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) despite the fact that the program remains unfunded and President Trump’s proposed budget, which Bernhardt supported, nearly zeroed out funding for the critical public lands and parks program.
“This band-aid funding is a slap in the face to states across the West and throughout the country,” said Jayson O’Neill, Deputy Director of the Western Values Project. “Bernhardt recklessly supported Trump’s budget which nearly zeroed out the LWCF. Now he’s trying to paper over this decision by offering up pocket-change? The LWCF needs full and permanent funding now, before our outdoor heritage is sacrificed, and before our public lands are sold off to the highest bidder.”
Sec. Bernhardt supported Pres. Trump’s budget, which proposed zeroing out funding for the LWCF, claiming that he would instead find ‘creative ways to implement’ the critical public lands and parks program. The funding offered today does not come close to meeting the LWCF’s proposed annual funding of $900 million. LWCF funding does not cost taxpayers a dime, yet has provided millions of dollars to projects across the West. The program has seen some $22 billion diverted from the program since its creation in 1964.
With the announcement of these state matching grants, states will receive a divided-up $170.6 million to assist with assorted programs and projects. Sen. Steve Daines (R-MT) has already used these small grants to take credit for “securing funding,” though Montana’s funding is far from grand, in comparison to other states. Daines sits on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee that has yet to hold a hearing on pending legislation to fully and permanently fund the LWCF.