The Department of the Interior is distributing $279M from the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) to all 50 states, U.S. territories, and the District of Columbia.
Through LWCF, Maryland has been allocated $5,216,915. The allocation for each state and territory is determined by a population-based apportionment formula set in the LWCF Act. States and territories further allocate these funds to local projects, usually through a competitive process.
“One of the best investments we can make is in stewarding the lands and waters that sustain us and the generations to come. Today we are making critical investments that will help expand access to the outdoors for communities across the country, all while creating jobs and safeguarding the environment from the effects of climate change,” said Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland. “The Land and Water Conservation Fund is an integral part of advancing President Biden’s conservation vision, which recognizes the need to address the nature and climate crises, improve equitable access to the outdoors, and strengthen the economy” (Department of the Interior press release).
According to the National Association of Counties (NACo):
In 2019, Congress permanently reauthorized the LWCF and guaranteed that 40 percent of LWCF funding would be earmarked for state grants, with an additional 40 percent also guaranteed for federal land agency needs, including land acquisitions. Additionally, in 2020, Congress made LWCF funding permanent and mandatory under the Great American Outdoors Act, legislation which also created the National Parks and Public Land Legacy Restoration Fund to reduce the deferred maintenance backlog on federal lands.
Counties support the LWCF program with a focus on supporting areas in greatest need of open space protection and strong funding allocations for state matching grants to counties and other local governments.