“Buy land,” Mark Twain advised. “They’re not making any more.” Federal conservation programs are the American public’s way of heeding that advice — and saving the places that make America great.
Conservation funding programs protect land that offers exceptional public benefits — like parks and public lands, productive farms and ranches, healthy watersheds and vital wildlife habitat.
The Alliance leads efforts in Washington, D.C., to maintain and increase public funding for land conservation.
A range of federal programs fund purchases and bargain sales of either land or conservation easements. For many landowners, donated easements are simply not a realistic option, so public funding is necessary to protect important resources. In most cases, federal funding for conservation is highly leveraged by contributions from local or state governments, nonprofit fundraising and landowners’ generosity.
With the passage of legislation like the Great American Outdoors Act and the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, we’ve seen meaningful increases in conservation funding. However, federal spending on land, water, ocean and wildlife programs remains a tiny percentage of the federal budget and demand for these programs far exceeds funding.
Public funding for land conservation brings an impressive return on investment. Our natural resources provide immense benefits like clean water, food security, flood control, outdoor recreation, public health, educational opportunities and so much more. They also help to grow our economy. According to the Bureau of Economic Analysis, outdoor recreation activities contribute a total of $778 billion annually to the economy while supporting 5.2 million American jobs.
The Alliance focuses on federal programs that support land conservation, including: