Explore the Trail Banner

Land and Water Conservation Fund

The future of the A.T. depends on a program that could end soon

The Land and Water Conservation Fund benefits the A.T. – but is in peril

Rosalie, a Broad-winged Hawk, wears a monitor that tracks her flight path along the Appalachian Mountain Range. Researchers at Hawk Mountain Sanctuary in Kempton, PA document Rosalie’s yearly travels to Peru and back. The Land and Water Conservation Fund is vital to protecting the migratory routes of birds and other wildlife that depend on a healthy and intact greenway. (Photo by Zach Bordner)

The Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) — a long-standing, highly successful conservation program that has substantially helped in building the Appalachian Trail (A.T.) — expired on September 30, 2018. LWCF was congressionally established more than five decades ago, and now Congress needs to pass legislation reauthorizing this essential source of conservation funding.

Over the years, LWCF has greatly benefitted the A.T. in adding open space around the Trail to create a 250,000-acre greenway that traverses 14 states, from Maine to Georgia. The A.T. landscape connects significant public lands in the eastern United States and protects scenic vistas, wildlife habitats, forests, meadows, wetlands, farmlands and areas of historic significance. 

Through LWCF, it has been possible to preserve scenic open spaces along the Trail, improve recreational access for millions of residents in the Eastern United States, support sustainable tourism in hundreds of communities, and ensure that important wildlife migratory routes remain intact.  

Why is LWCF important?

Benton MacKaye’s vision in 1921 –  for an interconnected system of trails in the Eastern United States united by a grand trail traversing the Appalachian Mountain Range – continues to be a work in progress. 

Land acquired from willing sellers along the Trail – made possible by LWCF and private contributions – has protected a vulnerable landscape in the Southern Appalachians in Rocky Fork, Tennessee; preserved historic farmland adjoining the Washington-Jefferson National Forest in Nelson County, Virginia; improved side trails and recreational access near Bald Mountain Pond in Maine; and protects sensitive wildlife habitat in Pawling, New York.

Rocky Fort
ATC’s position

ATC advocates for the permanent reauthorization of LWCF with full funding annually of at least $900 million. ATC points out LWCF is not tax-payer funded but derived from receipts from offshore oil and gas receipts.

LWCF is an essential part in protecting the grand vision and the world-renowned identity of the Trail; in preserving the natural, cultural and historical resources along the 2,191-mile Trail; in maintaining recreation access and associated health benefits for millions of Americans; in sustaining wildlife; and in ensuring the Trail’s characteristics are preserved for generations to come.

How can you help?

The necessary legislation to reauthorize LWCF can — and should — be passed before Congress adjourns in 2018. Support for this legislation is widespread and bipartisan. Nevertheless, passage of this legislation could be overlooked in the final days of Congress. Therefore, it is essential that Congress hears from supporters.

Please let your Congressional Members know of your support for LWCF and the vital role LWCF serves in supporting the A.T.

LWCF’s impacts on the ground
LWCF dollars — along with private funding — contribute to an intact greenway that allows wildlife to thrive. Rosalie, a Broad-winged Hawk, depends on a healthy landscape as she migrates yearly from Pennsylvania to Peru along the Appalachian Mountain Range. In the below video, see how Hawk Mountain Sanctuary traps and tags a variety of raptors to learn about their movements, which guides conservation efforts.

Broad-winged Hawk Trapping & Processing from Hawk Mountain Sanctuary on Vimeo.

Follow Rosalie’s journey via Hawk Mountain Sanctuary’s Bird Tracker here and read more about why a connected wildlife corridor matters click here.