Mapping the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF)

The Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) has been America's most important conservation funding tool for nearly 50 years.

Since 1964, the fund has preserved millions of acres in all 50 states, and almost every U.S. county. This includes conservation of national parks, local trails, national recreation areas, wildlife refuges and more.  States can also earn matching grants for open spaces, parks and recreation areas. Yet, the clock is ticking for the LWCF because the current anti-conservation Congress is threatening not to re-authorize this successful program.

The Land and Water Conservation Fund, which is truly a brilliant idea, costs taxpayers nothing. It works by using royalties from offshore oil and gas leasing to buy and conserve pockets of private land within national parks, known as "inholdings," and other lands around national forests, refuges and recreation areas.  Such lands are then conserved and protected from nearby development.  Places like Grand Canyon National Park, Ariz., Rocky Mountain National Park, Colo, Antietam National Battlefield, Md., and Cape Hatteras National Seashore, N.C., have all benefited from the fund.

If the Land and Water Conservation fund is not renewed, hundreds of needed conservation projects will have no funding. Special wild areas that are at risk of being developed will be threatened, and our nation's ability to conserve lands for future generations will be undercut.  

The projects on this map show how valuable the Land and Water Conservation Fund is to Americans.  Explore the map to see nearly every project funded in each state over the history of the fund. 

Map: Explore county by county to see nearly every state & national LWCF project

  • National projects are pin drops (approx. location)
  • To view state matching grant projects, click a county.
  • Data available in "show related records" (Data thru 2014) 

Dig deeper: 

Looking for dollar amounts for specific projects? Click on the state or a pinpoint within the state that you're interested in. Then click the "Show Related Records" link at the bottom of the data box. This will open a list of LWCF project names and funding amounts within the state you've chosen. Additionally, full data can be downloaded as CSV files by selecting "Options" in this menu. See example below:  

Data Methods, Sources, and Download Data:

State side LWCF Projects:

State Side LWCF information was created by joining the National Park Service LWCF stateside online database and the US Census information on population estimate in 2013 with the GIS shapes from the ESRI USA County layer.  A unique identifier was created that combined the County name and the State name to join the LWCF and Census information to the County GIS layer.  The calculation for LWCF Per Capita Funding was calculated by dividing the Total LWCF Funds by the Population Estimate.

Map Service URL:


Federal side LWCF Projects:

The Federal LWCF projects were compiled from two sources, the annual Congressional Appropriations Bills and the National Park Service.  The Federal units were then geocoded using the Google and Bing geocoding services, followed by a manual verification of location.  The National Park Service units were added by converting a NPS GIS file to centerpoints and merging into the full list.  This is not a complete list of Federal LWCF projects as not all agencies have compiled information on LWCF projects.

Map Service URL: