After only one full day of mourning the Land and Water Conservation Fund's expiration, hope is restored in the program's future.
Today, Sen. Maria Cantwell's (D-Washington) legislation to permanently reauthorize and fully fund the LWCF passed through both Senate and House committees, which means it's on its way to being restored. Now, it goes before the full Senate for consideration later this year.
"We are still LWCF'ed in the short term, but are hopeful that today's Senate committee vote will lead to end of the year negotiations to #SaveLWCF and fully fund the program once and for all," Outdoor Industry Association posted on social media.
Jess Wahl, recreation policy manager at OIA, said in the past five years that she's been working on the program, LWCF has never passed through both the House and Senate committees in the same session. A few weeks ago, it passed through the House.
"This is the most progress on this program that i've ever seen and the closest to reauthorization in 50 years," Wahl told SNEWS. "It's really exciting. We have to wait until Congress comes back after the midterm elections to get it passed on the floor, but this is great news and I think sets us up for success in November."
Last week, OIA and outdoor brands visited Congress to urge them to take up the bill. But the fund expired on Sunday, after more than 50 years of helping preserve outdoor recreation areas. According to the LWCF Coalition, a ticker on the website estimates that parks have lost nearly $4 million (as of midday Tuesday) in funding since expiration.