Interior Department distributes funds to support recreation and conservation efforts

By: - June 11, 2022 9:00 am

For visitors entering Grand Canyon National Park on the south rim, Mather Point is the often the first place to stop and view the canyon. (W. Tyson Joye/National Parks Service)

The Department of Interior distributed $279 million from the Land and Water Conservation Fund to all 50 states, U.S. territories, and the District of Columbia in support of state-identified outdoor recreation and conservation projects.

Kansas received $3.4 million in funding, which the state will allocate to local projects.

“One of the best investments we can make is in stewarding the lands and waters that sustain us and the generations to come,” said Interior secretary Deb Haaland in a news release.

“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,” she added.

The Land and Water Conservation Fund was developed in 1965, according to the Department of the Interior, and it has funded $5.1 billion dollars in support of 45,000 projects across the U.S.

The fund supports increased public access to and protection of federal public lands and waters, including national parks, forests, wildlife and recreation areas, the department said.

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“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,” Haaland said in the news release.

The allocation of funds is determined by a population-based apportionment formula set in the Land and Water Conservation Act, according to the department.

“Access to outdoor recreation helps strengthen and enrich communities,” said  National Park Service director Chuck Sams said in a news release.

“The Land and Water Conservation Fund helps enable state and local governments to upgrade parks and recreation areas in their communities and create new outdoor spaces to ensure everyone has access to recreation opportunities close to home,” he added.

According to the National Park Service, under the Land and Water Conservation Fund, more than 40,000 grants have been approved to states and localities for the acquisition, development, and planning of outdoor recreation opportunities in the United States.

“Grants have supported the purchase and protection of three million acres of recreation lands and over 29,000 projects to develop basic recreation facilities in every state and territory of the nation,” the National Park Service said on its website. “75% of the total funds obligated have gone to locally sponsored projects to provide close-to-home recreation opportunities.”

A full list of appropriated funds is on the Department of Interior website.

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Shondiin Silversmith
Shondiin Silversmith

Shondiin Silversmith is an award-winning Native journalist based on the Navajo Nation. Silversmith has covered Indigenous communities for more than 10 years, and covers Arizona's 22 federally recognized sovereign tribal nations, as well as national and international Indigenous issues. Her digital, print and audio stories have been published by USA TODAY, The Arizona Republic, Navajo Times, The GroundTruth Project and PRX's "The World." Silversmith earned her master's degree in journalism and mass communication in Boston before moving back to Arizona to continue reporting stories on Indigenous communities. She is a member of the Native American Journalist Association and has made it a priority in her career to advocate, pitch and develop stories surrounding Indigenous communities in the newsrooms she works in.

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