Issue Brief 15-38
December 2, 2015

Authorization for the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF)—a revolving fund that provides grants to states to support outdoor recreation—expired on September 30, 2015.

In recent weeks, House and Senate committees have considered bills to reauthorize the fund. On November 18, the House Natural Resources Committee discussed a seven-year reauthorization proposal that would dramatically alter the distribution of LWCF funding. On November 19, a permanent reauthorization was approved by the Senate Natural Resources Committee. On November 20, another bill was introduced in the Senate, which would reauthorize the program for 10 years, and increase funding to states.  

At this point, it is unclear whether Congress can appropriate funding out of the fund’s existing balance in the absence of a current authorization. Furthermore, a number of legislative issues surround LWCF’s reauthorization, including funding levels and the distribution of funds between federal and state projects. This Issue Brief provides background on the LWCF, an analysis of current funding issues, and details on the recent reauthorization proposals.