Washington Law Review


Congress created the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) in 1965 to provide resources for states and federal agencies to acquire and develop land for public outdoor recreation. Over the past forty years, the LWCF has quietly become one of the most successful conservation programs in United States history. The federal government and states have used the LWCF to preserve unique landscapes for their natural beauty, scientific value, and wildlife habitat, as well as to encourage traditional recreational pursuits. The LWCF Act prohibits the conversion of LWCF-funded state and local parks to uses other than public outdoor recreation unless approved by the National Park Service under strict conditions. Nevertheless, state and local LWCF grantees have illegally converted numerous LWCF parks. As pressure grows on state and local governments to develop parkland for nonrecreational uses, illegal LWCF park conversions threaten unique landscapes and the integrity of the LWCF program. This Comment argues that federal common law and statutory rights in LWCF-funded lands enable the United States to seek an array of coercive remedies to prevent, remedy, and deter illegal conversions of LWCF parks.

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