Thanks to the Land and Water Conservation Fund for These Parks

After more than 50 years of protecting land for the public, this successful program was allowed to die.

Mount Rainier National Park.
Mount Rainier National Park in Washington.

Photo by Galyna Andrushko/Shutterstock

The Land and Water Conservation Fund expired Thursday at midnight. The fund helped create parks in all 50 states, including many national wildlife refuges, forests, rivers, community parks, and trails. The fund, created by Congress in 1965 to buy land for public use and protect these areas, uses revenues from offshore drilling of oil and gas to conserve land and water. Every year $900 million in royalties were paid by energy companies on the outer continental shelf. However, each year, Congress diverts much of this funding to other uses. Currently, the overall federal land acquisition needs are backlogged by more than $30 billion. There was bipartisan support for permanent or continued funding of the LWCF, but Congress allowed it to lapse on Oct. 1. These developments leave lands unprotected that could have been purchased for the public and protected from private development. Here are some of the beautiful lanscapes in areas that have been protected and funded in whole or in part by LWCF over the past 50 years. 

MacArthur Park.
Hand-painted vinyl balls float in the MacArthur Park Lake as part of a large-scale public arts installation organized by the Portraits of Hope charity in Los Angeles, on Aug. 23, 2015.

Photo by Mark Ralson/Getty

Gettysburg National Military Park
Union battlefield position Little Round Top at the Gettysburg National Military Park, on July 3, 2011 in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania.

Photo by Karen Bleier/Getty

Flight 93.
Visitors observe the Flight 93 crash site from a promontory at the Flight 93 National Memorial, which opened in Stoystown, Pennsylvania on Sept. 11, 2015.

Photo by Mark Makela/Reuters

Sandy Point State Park.
Chesapeake Bay Bridge at Sandy Point State Park in Annapolis, Maryland.

Photo by Acroterion/Wikimedia Commons

Moose Conte.
Moose at Silvio O. Conte National Fish and Wildlife Refuge in Brunswick, Vermont.

Photo by David Govatski/USFWS

Gila National Forest in New Mexico.
Gila National Forest in Silver City, New Mexico.

Photo by Samat Jain/Wikimedia Commons

Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado.

Photo by Daniel Mayer/Wikimedia Commons

Cherokee National Forrest.
Kevin Michelson in action during the U.S. Whitewater Kayak/Canoe Olympic Trials on the Ocoee River in the Cherokee National Forest in Ducktown, Tennessee.

Photo by M. David Leeds/Getty


Tahoe National Forest.
Summit of Mt. Lola in California’s Tahoe National Forest.

Photo by George Lamson/Flickr