Interior Department Announces $13 Million in Grants for Recreation and Conservation Projects in Western States
A number of western states will see millions of dollars in federal grants to help meet outdoor recreation and conservation funding needs, Interior Secretary David Bernhardt announced on Thursday.
The grant money comes from the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF), which collects revenues from offshore oil and gas leasing from the Outer Continental Shelf. The awards are administered by the National Park Service with matching federal grants.
“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,” Secretary Bernhardt said. “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,” Bernhardt continued.
All 50 states, five U.S. territories, and the District of Columbia will receive funding out of a total $170.6 million.
A number of western states that are home to massive national parks and conservation projects along with being a favorite of outdoor fans, will receive more than $13 million in grant awards.
Colorado, one of the most popular states in the nation for outdoor recreation, will receive $3 million. Utah and Wyoming, states with similar attractions, will receive $2.3 and $1.5 million, respectively.
Other notable western states receiving grant awards include Idaho ($1.8 million), Montana ($1.6 million), New Mexico ($2 million) and North Dakota ($1.5 million).
Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Colo.) has been a leading advocate for conservation funding and applauded the grant funding directed to Colorado and every other state.
“This grant funding shows why it was so important to permanently reauthorize the LWCF,” Gardner said. “These millions of dollars will go toward Colorado projects that rely on LWCF funding for conservation, so that future generations of Coloradans can enjoy our state’s public lands and have access to our great outdoors,” Gardner concluded.
Gardner played a key role in the passage of the Natural Resources Management Act earlier this year, which included a permanent reauthorization of the LWCF. President Trump signed the bill into law.
Gardner has also joined a bipartisan group of western senators including Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), Jon Tester (D-Mont.), Steve Daines (R-Mont.), Tom Udall (D-N.M.), and Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) to introduce a bill to permanently fund the LWCF at $900 million a year.
According to the Interior Department, the LWCF has directed more than $4.4 billion to state and local governments to fund more than 43,000 projects since it was established by Congress in 1964.