A recent lease sale in the Gulf of Mexico will expand deep water oil exploration while guaranteeing money for the drastically under funded Land and Water Conservation Fund, thanks to a bill passed in 2006. The LWCF is a federal grant program that makes money available to local and state governments for the purchase of park lands and development of recreation facilities. The program was created in the ‘60s and was supposed to be funded by oil and gas royalties, but the funding subject to an annual appropriations process. As a result, the LWCF has gone severely under funded for years.

The 2006 bill established the first permanent funds for the LWCF program, guaranteeing a certain percentage of every oil and gas lease royalties go directly to recreation grants without being subject to congressional and presidential whims. The recent expansion of oil exploration will result in the first guaranteed funds for the LWCF program since the program’s inception. Initially, $8 million will be earmarked for local parks and trails across the nation, with up to $48 million of guaranteed funds to follow over the next few years.

The LWCF has funded more than 41,000 projects in the U.S. over the last 40 years, from playgrounds to mountain bike trail systems.

For more information: www.nps.gov/lwcf/