The Land and Water Conservation Fund
* Maroon Bells Wilderness
For nearly 20 years, hikers, campers and cross-country skiers have enjoyed
the quiet majesty of the Maroon Bells-Snowmass Wilderness near Aspen,
Colorado. Mountain climbers are attracted to the 14,000 foot peaks, fishermen
enjoy the numerous trout streams and photographers flock to capture the
mountains and golden aspen in the autumn. Their wilderness experience
was threatened, however, when owners of a 472-acre inholding of mineral
and timber rights expressed interest in creating a large quarry operation
on the site.
In addition to creating noise and traffic, the operation would have harmed
the area's scenic values, destroyed wildlife habitat and disrupted a popular
trail used annually by thousands of hikers. With funds from the LWCF,
the Forest Service was able to purchase the mineral and timber rights
in 1999, preserving the area's unique character.
* Appalachian National Scenic Trail
The Appalachian National Scenic Trail stretches 2,150 miles through 14
states along mountain ridges from central Maine to Northern Georgia. One
of the country's most popular recreational resources, the footpath attracts
more than 4,000,000 hikers and visitors each year.
The Forest Service is among several federal agencies and private organizations
working to complete the trail. The Forest Service has sought and received
LWCF allocations for acquisition in the Cherokee National Forest (Tennessee),
the Pisgah and Nantahala National Forests (North Carolina), and the George
Washington and Jefferson National Forests (Virginia). Altogether, the
LWCF has funded the purchase of more than 150,000 acres along the trail,
helping protect 98 percent of the trail corridor and preserving its impressive
* Sawtooth National Recreation Area
The Sawtooth National Recreation Area in Idaho dazzles more than a million
visitors each year with its jagged peaks, gem-like lakes, lush glacier-carved
mountain meadows and valleys. Its free-running streams harbor endangered
fish species such as chinook salmon and bull trout. Elk, deer and other
wildlife co-exist with cattle from the region's many family ranches.
With much of the area facing strong development pressures, the Forest
Service has used LWCF funds to purchase 5,000 acres of land. Conservation
easements have been purchased on more than 18,000 privately-held acres
facing likely subdivision. Many of these easements are adjacent to the
Ponderosa, Salmon River and Sawtooth National Scenic Byways.
* Big Sur Ecosystem
The dramatic coastline of California's Big Sur area is famous around the
word for its expansive meadows, dense redwood forests, rugged cliffs and
pounding surf. Within easy reach of more than 20 million Californians,
the area offers sought-after recreation opportunities from picnicking
and bird watching to backcountry camping and hiking. More than a dozen
species of threatened or endangered wildlife, including the southern sea
otter and peregrine falcon, call the area home.
Since the early 1990's LWCF allocations have allowed the Forest Service—in
partnership with several local conservation groups—to add more
than 5,000 acres of Big Sur ocean-front property, trail-laced forests
and grasslands to the Los Padres National Forest.
* Chattooga Wild and Scenic River
One of the Southeast's most popular recreation destinations, the 57-mile
Chattooga Wild and Scenic River lies within a four-hour drive of over
15 million people in North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia. Visitors
come for exceptional trout fishing, challenging white-water rafting, spectacular
hiking and camping and numerous other activities. The river corridor's
undeveloped shorelines, sheer rock cliffs and dense forests also provide
critical habitat for many plant and animal species.
Although most of the river corridor is under National Forest ownership,
several key inholdings prevent public access and large portions of the
critical headwaters are under pressure from increasing development. To
protect this unique resource, the Forest Service initiated a program in
the early 1990's to acquire land through donations and purchases from
willing sellers. So far, LWCF funds have allowed the Forest Service to
purchase more than 6,000 acres within the river corridor.
* Sedona, Arizona - Red Rocks
With its majestic red rock cliffs set against a deep blue Arizona sky,
Sedona and the surrounding Coconino National Forest attracts over 4 million
visitors each year. Over 62,000 acres of wilderness provides a dramatic
back-drop of sculpted buttes, arches, and slot canyons. In addition to
its scenic value, the area boasts abundant archeological ruins, rock art,
Native American history, biologically rich stream-side areas and important
The Forest Service is working in partnership with the community and national
organizations to protect the exceptional natural and scenic values of
the area through select acquisitions. In 1998, for example, the agency
received LWCF allocations to purchase 110 acres adjacent to the Red Rock
Secret Mountain Wilderness Area.
* Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area
A spectacular 83-mile canyon dividing Oregon and Washington, the Columbia
River Gorge was identified by Congress as a "National Treasure" for good
reason. Encompassing more than 292,000 acres, this National Scenic Area
abounds with dense forests, clear streams, dramatic waterfalls, sheer
rock bluffs, and numerous threatened or endangered species of plants,
fish and wildlife. Attracting more than four million visitors a year,
the gorge also brings significant economic benefits to local communities.
Of the 97,728 acres in the Scenic Area administered by the Forest Service,
over half are in private ownership. To protect vulnerable natural resources
from growth pressures, the Forest Service has created a program to identify
and acquire the most critical parcels available for purchase. Using LWCF
funds, the agency has protected more than 31,000 acres since 1995.
* North Florida Wildlife Corridor
Located in an area connecting the Osceola National Forest (Florida) with
the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge (Georgia), the Pinhook Swamp protects
freshwater supplies for nearly 20 million Floridians and Georgians. In
addition it provides habitat for migratory waterfowl, bobcat, black bear
and many species of threatened or endangered wildlife. An ongoing Forest
Service purchase program is helping protect these natural resources—and subsequently benefiting local communities that depend on the 800,000-plus
tourists who visit these public lands and waters each year.
A host of nonprofit conservation groups are working with the Forest Service
to acquire additional wetlands threatened by commercial activity and development.
More than 40,000 acres within the 170,000-acre wildlife corridor have
been protected, thanks to the LWCF.
* Preserving Northeastern Forests
Among the most visited lands in the National Forest System, the Green
Mountain National Forest (Vermont & Maine) and the White Mountain National
Forest (New Hampshire) provide accessible and affordable recreation for
millions of residents in the densely populated Northeast. Home to almost
2,000 miles of hiking trails, several ski areas and over 174,000 acres
of Wilderness, these scenic forests are under intense development pressure
for recreational housing.
In the last few years, the Forest Service has worked with local residents,
nonprofit organizations and local, county and state governments to acquire
key tracts that protect habitat for Atlantic salmon, trout and non-game
species and provide improved public access to trails for hiking, mountain
biking, cross-country skiing and snowmobiling. With LWCF allocations,
the Forest Service has been able to protect more than 26,000 acres in
these Northeastern forests.
* Pacific Northwest Streams
The American Fisheries Society estimates that 170 distinct populations
of at-risk salmon and steelhead depend in some part on National Forests
in the Pacific Northwest. To give these and other threatened fish species
a better chance for recovery, the Forest Service continues to request
and receive LWCF appropriations to acquire critical fisheries habitat
in a variety of watersheds, including properties along the Skagit Wild
and Scenic River, in Washington and the McKenzie Wild and Scenic River
More than 37,000 acres of riverbanks, upland forests, salt-marshes and
other properties have been acquired using LWCF funds, providing key habitat
not only to fish but also bald eagles, peregrine falcons, seabirds, shellfish,
waterfowl and a host of other plant and animal species. The acquisitions
also often expand and protect fishing, hiking, boating, and swimming opportunities
for the public.