The federal fund has helped protect parks, beaches, and trails in every U.S. state without using funds from taxpayers


CALIFORNIA — Today, the Surfrider Foundation (“Surfrider”) released a new report that demonstrates how the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) has helped to protect some of America’s most iconic beaches and important coastal resources, including California’s Point Reyes National Seashore and Huntington Beach, and Rhode Island’s Block Island National Wildlife Refuge.

The LWCF, often dubbed “America’s best conservation program,” is based on a simple concept: use revenues from offshore oil and gas production to fund federal, state, and local government grants for land and water conservation projects. Using no taxpayer dollars, the LWCF protects parks, wildlife refuges, open spaces, sensitive habitat, and improves recreational opportunities across the U.S. Congress first passed the LWCF in 1964 with bipartisan support. 


One of Surfrider’s key report findings is that the LWCF can continue to help U.S. coastal communities — and the country as a whole — better prepare for climate change impacts by protecting coastal lands. Coastlines play a critical role in protecting communities from extreme weather events and sea level rise associated with climate change. Intact, resilient coastlines act as ‘buffers’ against sea level rise and extreme weather by reducing erosion and protecting open space and habitats. For example, Bolsa Chica Marsh Ecological Reserve (near Huntington Beach in California) received LWCF funds to restore its wetlands, which supports local climate change adaptation efforts.

“Our report demonstrates that the LWCF has protected and reinforced our precious coastlines for decades,” said Surfrider’s CEO, Dr. Chad Nelsen. “In light of climate change, the resilience of our coastal lands is of paramount importance. This makes the LWCF more important now than ever before. It’s time for our congressional leaders to act and fully fund the LWCF to better protect our oceans, our coastlines, and our communities against climate change.”

Representative Mike Levin (CA-49) added, “My district has more than 50 miles of beautiful California coastline, including some of America’s most iconic beaches that are beloved by all those who are lucky enough to call Southern California home. It’s where families spend time together, surfers ride world-class waves, and tourists from across the world come to visit. The Land and Water Conservation Fund must be fully funded in order to ensure that we can continue protecting our coastlines for future generations, and that will continue to be one of my top priorities in Congress.” 

Here are three additional key findings from Surfrider’s report:

  1. For more than 50 years, the LWCF has played a critical role in protecting beaches, wetlands and coastal resources across the U.S. The LWCF helps to protect unique coastal ecosystems and cultural resources. About 178,000 annual visitors to East Matunuck State Beach in Rhode Island enjoy the strong surf and contribute an estimated $13 million in economic output. LWCF funds have improved the infrastructure of this beloved state beach, one of the most vulnerable in the state due to storm surge, sea level rise and coastal erosion.
  2. The LWCF contributes extensively to state and federal economies. The LWCF benefits state and federal economies. According to the Outdoor Industry Association, outdoor recreation supported $887 billion in consumer spending and 7.6 million jobs across the country in 2017. This produced $59.2 billion annually in state and local tax revenue.
  3. LWCF funding may be eliminated in 2020 unless Congress takes action. Full and permanent LWCF funding is needed to continue America’s long legacy of protecting special places. Surfrider and their coalition partners urge Congress to fully and permanently fund the LWCF in order to maintain America’s long legacy of protecting special places. The Department of Interior’s proposed Fiscal Year 2020 budget aimed to effectively eliminate LWCF funding. There is no current requirement to fully fund the LWCF at its mandated $900 million total. Funding for the LWCF is particularly critical given that, without protected coastlines, climate change’s impacts will be even more dire for U.S. coastal public lands and communities.

“LWCF is the backbone of healthy communities and healthy economies across the country. This critical, bipartisan program has allowed our 4 million co-op members and 2,400 employees in California to opt outside, and benefit from the preservation of coastal wetlands and beaches,” said Taldi Harrison, Community and Government Affairs Manager for outdoor retailer REI. “Outdoor businesses need certainty that LWCF projects will continue to open access to the outdoors. It’s time for Congress to fully and permanently fund this critical program once and for all.”

The Surfrider Foundation is a nonprofit grassroots organization dedicated to the protection and enjoyment of our world’s ocean, waves and beaches through a powerful network. Founded in 1984 by a handful of visionary surfers in Malibu, California, the Surfrider Foundation now maintains over one million supporters, activists and members, with more than 170 volunteer-led chapters and student clubs in the U.S., and more than 600 victories protecting our coasts. Learn more at