The U.S. Department of the Interior announced Monday that $25,000 in revenues available through the Gulf of Mexico Energy Security Act will be distributed to U.S. Virgin Islands.
The money is to be used for Land and Water Conservation Fund grants that support outdoor recreation and conservation projects, according to Interior’s news release. These funds, which are made up of non-taxpayer dollars from Outer Continental Shelf lease revenues, are part of $61.6 million being awarded to the 50 states, the territories, and the District of Columbia. The funds come through federal matching grants that leverage public and private investment in America’s state and local public parks.
“I believe the Land and Water Conservation Fund State and Local Assistance Program demonstrates how we can work together to improve and expand access to public outdoor recreation opportunities, modernize our country’s park and recreation infrastructure, and support Virgin Islands communities with new jobs and other economic benefits,” said U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke.
This year’s distribution of GOMESA revenues is a significant increase from past years, Interior said, with this level of funding expected to continue into the future. Moving forward, Interior will distribute these funds ahead of the traditional annual LWCF Appropriations.
“This is a great state-federal partnership that benefits all citizens,” Zinke said. “Making this change in distribution gets these funds to states so they can start creating public outdoor recreation opportunities earlier.”
After this year, states will receive GOMESA revenues during the winter and traditional LWCF Appropriations during the spring months.
The Land and Water Conservation Fund was established by Congress in 1965 to ensure access to outdoor recreation resources for present and future generations, and to provide money to federal, state and local governments to purchase land and water for the benefit of all Americans. Using zero taxpayer dollars, the LWCF also invests earnings from offshore oil and gas leasing to permanently conserve outdoor recreation areas for public use and enjoyment.
The funds enable state and local governments to improve park and other recreation areas in their communities by rehabilitating and upgrading existing parks, creating brand new parks in places that have none, and developing and expanding trail systems that link communities to each other and to additional outdoor recreation opportunities.
Since the inception of the LWCF, more than $4.2 billion has been made available to state and local governments to fund more than 42,000 projects throughout the nation. The allocation for the State and Local Assistance Program is determined by a formula set in the LWCF Act.
The GOMESA was enacted by Congress in 2006 and directed certain Outer Continental Shelf revenues to be disbursed to the States through grants under the LWCF State and Local Assistance Program administered by the Department of the Interior and National Park Service.
More information about the fund is available online at www.nps.gov/lwcf.