GAO: Forest Service Has Not Complied with LWCF Act

In a new report requested and released today by Senator Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) found that the Forest Service has not complied with a provision in the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) Act that limits the amount of land the agency can acquire using LWCF money.

GAO found that between fiscal years 2013 and 2017, the federal government acquired more than 850,000 acres of land in the United States. By law, no more than 15 percent of the acreage the Forest Service acquires using LWCF funds can be west of the 100th Meridian. GAO found that the Forest Service’s acquisition far exceeded that limit, with about 80 percent occurring in the western U.S.

“This report highlights the need for continued oversight of LWCF and demonstrates that the Forest Service needs to pay greater attention to requirements in the LWCF Act when the agency submits land acquisition proposals to Congress,” Murkowski said.

GAO’s new report follows one it issued in June evaluating the land management agencies’ implementation of LWCF. LWCF was established in 1965 to preserve, develop, and ensure access to quality recreational opportunities and is primarily funded from oil and gas royalties raised from Outer Continental Shelf energy development.