Daines Leads Historic Push to Fully Fund LWCF, Address National Parks Maintenance Backlog

U.S. SENATE – Today, U.S. Senator Steve Daines announced new legislation that will provide full, mandatory funding of the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) and address the maintenance backlog in our national parks. This legislation and announcement follows a meeting Daines held last week with President Trump and Leader McConnell to highlight the importance of these conservation priorities for Montana. During the meeting, President Trump agreed to support and sign Daines’ legislation into law.

  Daines LWCF Full Funding

To download Daines’ full remarks, click HERE.

“This is a historic day for conservation, Montana and this nation. I am proud to stand here today and announce that after my meeting with President Trump, Senator Gardner and Leader McConnell, we have the support we need to provide full and mandatory funding for LWCF and address the maintenance backlog at our national parks,” Daines said. “For Montanans, protecting our public lands is about protecting our way of life. That’s why I’ve made it my top priority since coming to Congress to fight for LWCF and our parks. I look forward to getting this historic conservation victory across the finish line for future generations of Montanans.”

Yesterday, President Trump issued statements supporting Daines’ work on LWCF, and commitment to sign legislation into law. Leader McConnell also issued a supportive statement of Daines’ work.

Last year, under Daines’ leadership in the U.S. Senate, President Trump signed into law a historic bipartisan public lands package which included the permanent authorization of LWCF. Daines’ new bill requires full, mandatory funding of LWCF at $900 million. Daines’ bill also helps fix the $11.9 billion maintenance backlog facing national parks across the nation, including over $700 million in Glacier and Yellowstone National Parks. Daines is the Chairman of the U.S. Senate Subcommittee on National Parks.

Following the announcement, Daines receive significant support from conservation stakeholders:

“The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation congratulates Senator Daines, Senator Gardner and the Trump Administration for reaching agreement on legislation that would represent the most significant conservation achievement by Congress in decades. Permanent, mandatory funding of LWCF would provide conservation organizations and landowners certainty in their agreements to protect wildlife habitat and provide public access to public lands. RMEF has completed more than 80 habitat and access projects with LWCF funding that conserved more than 152,000 acres. Last year, Sen. Daines secured $250,000 in reprogrammed LWCF funds to help RMEF acquire 442 acres near August, MT that provided public access to more than 26,000 acres of National Forest lands. The agreement to address maintenance backlog issues in our national parks is equally significant. We need to invest in our treasured national parks to benefit the public and wildlife in the long term. RMEF looks forward to working with Senators Daines and Gardner to get this incredibly important legislation through Congress and signed into law.” – Mark Lambrecht, Director of Government Affairs, Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation


“On behalf of all the units of the National Park Service, and as the Superintendent of Glacier National Park I want to thank Senator Daines and all the members of Congress who support our national parks in many ways. Restoring our parks will be a historic one if it comes forward.” – Jeff Mow, Superintendent, Glacier National Park


“We deeply appreciate Senator Daines’ work to advocate for full and mandatory funding for the Land and Water Conservation Fund. For everyone who loves to get outside to bike, ski, climb, hike, camp, and explore, LWCF is one of the best ways to create and protect the places we play. It’s one of the best conservation ideas of the last fifty years and to see it fully realized now is a win for all Americans who get outside. We also deeply appreciate the Senator’s work to restore our nation’s parks and public lands through the Restore Our Parks Act. Americans have great affection for all our public lands, from National Parks to National Forests and BLM lands, and this legislation is a needed solution to the maintenance backlog on our public lands.” – Adam Cramer, Executive Director, Outdoor Alliance


“On behalf of the Montana Trail, Recreation and Park Association, thank you, Senator Daines, for securing President Trump’s support for full mandatory funding for LWCF and to fix our Local, State and National Parks.” – Mike Whitaker, Board President, Montana Trails, Recreation & Park Association


“MOGA has long supported Congressional efforts to maintain and expand LWCF. The benefits that accrue to the outdoor community from LWCF are broad based and measurable. We applaud Senator Daines and others for their actions to make full funding permanent.”– Mac Minard, Executive Director, Montana Outfitter and Guides Association


“This is big news and great news for Montana conservation, our economy, and outdoor recreation. Thanks to Senator Daines and all LWCF supporters. Hey Congress, send the bill to the President.”– Glenn Marx, Executive Director, Montana Association of Land Trusts


“Today, Montanans can celebrate a big step forward for our public lands, coldwater fisheries, and outdoor heritage. The introduction of this bipartisan legislation to fully and permanently fund the Land and Water Conservation Fund and tackle decades of missed opportunities to invest in our critical fish and wildlife habitat and public access is something that we can all support. Senator Daines has been a steadfast champion for full and permanent funding for LWCF in Congress and we applaud both of our Senators’ efforts to listen to all Montanans and do what is right today. Wherever you choose to hunt or fish or recreate in Montana, this legislation will make your experience better. Thank you.” – David Brooks, Executive Director, Montana Trout Unlimited


“We’re grateful for the leadership of both Senator Daines and Senator Tester to ensure that our public lands receive the funding they deserve. We are delighted by the president’s announcement yesterday that he will join with conservation champions in Congress to conserve additional public lands and waters and repair crumbling recreational infrastructure that is essential to growing America’s outdoor economy. Our American identity is deeply entwined with our national parks and the local and state recreation areas created by the Land and Water Conservation Fund. We urge Congress to pass this legislation to preserve our cherished outdoor heritage for generations to come.”– Collin O’Mara, President and CEO, the National Wildlife Federation


“The bipartisan progress to fund LWCF and begin to fix the maintenance backlog on our public lands through the America’s Great Outdoors Act is a big moment for outdoor recreation and conservation. American Hiking Society applauds the leadership of Senator Daines and the robust support across the aisle to increase access to and preservation of our public lands. We encourage the Senate to quickly pass this legislation, including addressing the deferred maintenance of all our public lands, including the Forest Service.” – Tyler Ray, Director of Policy and Advocacy, American Hiking Society


“We have a historic opportunity to enact into law a fully funded LWCF, which plays a vital role in protecting and managing federal, state and local lands while supporting local economies and recreational opportunities across the country. We applaud Senators Gardner, Daines, Manchin, Cantwell, Burr and all of the bipartisan leaders in the U.S. Senate and U.S. House for championing this essential program—and the companion effort to address the maintenance backlog on our public lands—for our natural treasures.” – Larry Selzer, President and CEO, The Conservation Fund


“Today is a huge step for outdoor recreationists, the industry and the $778 billion outdoor recreation economy. We have supported these issues for a long time and are thrilled to see movement on them as they will help to further fuel the outdoor recreation economy across the country. We appreciate the sponsors’ dedication to these bills and will continue to work with them as our members hope support infrastructure needs for the other agencies, such as BLM, USFS, and FWS.”– Jessica Wahl, Executive Director, Outdoor Recreation Roundtable


“America’s public lands are at the root of the multibillion-dollar outdoor economy. It is critical that our country invest in addressing backlogged maintenance at our national parks, as well as our other federal lands, in order to ensure these shared spaces are accessible for Americans and visitors to enjoy. Thank you to Sens. Gardner, Daines, Manchin and Warner for your leadership in helping ensure our parks receive the attention they need. The young adults enrolled in America’s Service and Conservation Corps stand ready to assist resource managers in restoring our public lands.”– Mary Ellen Sprenkel, President and CEO, The Corps Network


“Concessioners have helped park visitors enjoy great experiences for more than a century.  We believe the nation should demonstrate a new and enduring commitment to connecting all Americans with their parks and other Great Outdoors places – a commitment that includes elimination of a chronic maintenance shortfall and of inadequate places and infrastructure to host the visits of our growing population.  We applaud today’s action by Senate champions and the Administration on the Restore Our Parks Act and the Land and Water Conservation Fund Act.  2020 is an appropriate year for visionary action – great clarity for steps that will make park visits safer, more enjoyable and providing economic sustainability to gateway communities across the nation.”- Scott Socha, Chair, National Park Hospitality Association


“The National Park Foundation is a strong supporter of the Restore Our Parks Act, and all efforts to reduce the deferred maintenance backlog. We look forward to continuing to work with the President, Secretary Bernhardt, and Congress to get a bill across the finish line.”- National Park Foundation


“The Restore Our Parks Act offers innovative solutions and sustainable funding that will address the deferred-maintenance backlog on federal lands, which is critical to improving and expanding national campgrounds. Campgrounds on federal lands are currently showing distressing signs of wear: crumbling roads and bridges; deferred maintenance needs; and limited camping availability, jeopardizing not only the RV industry but the entire outdoor recreation industry. We are encouraged by the support of this legislation and ask Congress to pass this bill without delay.”– Craig Kirby, President, RV Industry Association


“Today marks a milestone achievement for the Outdoor Industry Association and outdoor enthusiasts across the country. Our shared public lands and waters are the foundation of the huge and growing outdoor recreation economy, and we are thrilled to see our elected officials coming together in a bi-partisan way to deliver on full funding for LWCF and to commit sustainable funding to address the maintenance backlogs in our national parks. Both of these efforts will go a long way in continuing to grow the outdoor economy and assisting our continued effort to get more Americans into the outdoors.” – Lise Aangeenbrug, Executive Director, Outdoor Industry Association


“Time and time again, hunters and anglers have loudly stated our support of fully dedicating $900 million annually to the Land and Water Conservation Fund, America’s most popular and successful conservation and access program. We appreciate Senator Daines’ efforts to elevate our collective will to President Trump, making access and conservation a top priority in our nation. Thank you, Senator Daines, for your leadership. We look forward working together to advance this package across the finish line.”– John Gale, Conservation Director, Backcountry Hunters & Anglers



“We applaud this new legislation and its sponsors’ commitment to ensuring full funding for the Land and Water Conservation Fund and addressing long-standing deferred maintenance needs in our national parks. LWCF has enabled essential investments in iconic and diverse historic places in this country that help tell the full story of American heritage, including the Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historical Park in Atlanta, Canyons of the Ancients National Monument in Colorado, and Harpers Ferry National Historical Park in West Virginia. Montana’s public lands require on-going federal investments to protect and preserve the irreplaceable cultural and natural landscapes that contribute to the state’s proud heritage. We thank Montana’s senators for their work on these issues.” – Tom Cassidy, Vice President of Government Relations and Policy, National Trust for Historic Preservation 


“The Land and Water Conservation Fund is absolutely key to protecting the places we care about in Montana and maintaining our vibrant timber economy.  Legislation to fully and permanently fund this cornerstone program has long been a top priority— and the commitment Senator Daines has secured from the President is a truly giant step forward towards that goal.  Many thanks to Senator Daines for moving the ball and paving the way to a fully funded LWCF that works for Montana.”- Chuck Roady, Vice President and General Manager, F.H. Stoltze Land and Lumber



Daines has been a leading voice in the U.S. Senate for LWCF funding and protection of our public lands. In 2015, Daines was hailed as a “Conservative Conservationist” for his strong support of conservation policies.

Daines sits on the U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee and the U.S. Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee which have jurisdiction over LWCF.   

Daines was the only member of the U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee last year to voice his disappointment with LWCF’s funding levels.

In December of 2019, President Trump signed into law the highest level of funding of LWCF since 2003 at $495 million.

Daines recent actions this Congress include:

On November 19th, 2019, Daines advanced a slate of key Montana priorities out of the U.S. Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee including bipartisan bills that permanently and fully fund LWCF and help fix the maintenance backlog issue facing national parks.

On October 31st, 2019, Daines secured and advanced a $30 million increase in funding for the LWCF out of the U.S. Senate, which would bring the fund to $465 million.

On September 17th, 2019, Daines wrote Senate and House leadership urging full and permanent funding for LWCF.

On September 5th, 2019, Daines announced that $1,611,602 in grants from LWCF will be directed towards Montana to support public access, outdoor recreation and conservation projects.

On May 5th, 2019, Daines wrote a letter to U.S. Senate Interior Appropriations Committee Leadership urging the full funding of the LWCF and to build on momentum for stronger funding in the Senate bill.

On March 12th, 2019, Daines joined President Trump in the White House for the signing of a historic bipartisan lands package which included the permanent reauthorization of LWCF and the Yellowstone Gateway Protection Act. 

On February 26th, 2019, House leadership responded to Daines’ request and passed the public lands package with critical Montana wins.

On February 12th, 2019, Daines secured Senate passage of the landmark bipartisan public lands package that includes permanent reauthorization of LWCF, and the Yellowstone Gateway Protection Act among other provisions important to conservation and public access to public lands.

On February 14th, 2019, Daines secured a $10 million increase for LWCF, bringing funding for the program to $435 million for 2019.

On January 30th, 2019, Daines successfully convinced Senate leadership to bring the public lands package up for a vote in early in the 116th Congress.                                             

To learn more about Senator Daines’ efforts to protect our public lands and promote outdoor recreation, click HERE