Congress has allowed the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) to expire. Who’s most impacted by this decision?
This blog analyzes data obtained by E&E News looking at LWCF federal land acquisition projects for 2011 to 2015. This type of project, which includes buying land and conservation easements, is often objected to by opponents of the program.
The interactive map below shows how both Democratic and Republican Congressional Districts benefit from this kind of LWCF spending, and that Republican Districts have seen disproportionate benefits from the program.
From 2011 to 2015, LWCF federal land acquisition programs spent more money on more acres in Republican Districts than in Democratic Districts. Republican Districts received 70 percent of the spending affecting 63 percent of the program acreage.
The greater Republican share of acres and dollars may be due to several factors: effective Republican support for District projects, a greater number of Republican Districts in rural areas, and larger projects in Republican Districts.
This research reinforces the comprehensive database and visualization Headwaters Economics prepared for all LWCF projects covering 2011 to 2014. These data show that LWCF distributes projects and benefits to all 50 states and U. S. Territories.
LWCF is a 50-year-old federal program that assists efforts at the federal, state and local levels to improve public land access and recreation, along with water and habitat protections.
LWCF spending and acreage data are from the U.S. Department of Interior and U.S. Forest Service, via E&E News.
Data do not cover these other LWCF programs: Cooperative Endangered and Species Conservation Fund, State and Local Assistance, and Forest Legacy Program.
Data include the years 2011 to 2015. The year 2014 was used for Congressional District political party affiliation.