The U.S. Senate is expected to vote on a bill that would fully fund the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF), a program that provides critical funding for nationwide conservation work.
“For the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation alone, LWCF so far provided significant funding to complete 80 projects permanently protecting more than 150,000 acres of America’s most crucial elk habitat. This extraordinary legislation will expand and improve habitat for elk and other wildlife, increase public access for hunting and other recreation and stimulate the outdoor recreation economy,” said Kyle Weaver, RMEF president and CEO.
Congress established LWCF in 1964 to ensure public access to outdoor recreation resources for present and future generations, and to provide money to federal, state and local governments to purchase land, water and wetlands for the benefit of all Americans. It generates $900 million annually from offshore oil and gas leasing yet lawmakers have raided the fund for years. The bill, termed the Great American Outdoors Act, would permanently and fully fund LWCF.
“It allows us to have really tremendous impact across the landscape,” Blake Henning, RMEF chief conservation officer, told KPAX-TV. “But the dollars are such that it then may take us three or four years to pull the funding together. Well, that’s hard on a landowner to wait that long. They want some assurance that we’re going to pull this thing together.”
A Senate vote is expected shortly. The House would then need follow suit.
“Senator Daines is to be commended for leading the effort with Senate leadership to bring this bill to the floor and for securing President Trump’s commitment to sign it when it reaches his desk,” added Weaver.
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(Photo source: Karen Gamble/U.S. Forest Service)