Sportsmen and women spent $983 million hunting and fishing in Montana in 2011

One week after Congress passed the Fiscal Year 2014 omnibus bill, sportsmen are continuing the conversation about the importance of adequately funding conservation programs such as the North American Wetlands Conservation Act(NAWCA) and Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF).

Conservation and sportsmen groups met with Rep. Steve Daines (MT) today at Ducks Unlimited member Rob Hazlewood’s home for a roundtable discussion, followed by ice fishing. DU was joined by representatives from Backcountry Hunters and Anglers, Boone & Crockett, Mule Deer Foundation, Pheasants Forever and Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation.

“The state of Montana ranks third in duck production in the lower 48 states,” said DU CEO Dale Hall. “It’s clearly a priority area for DU, so we appreciate Congressman Daines making time to see for himself the effectiveness of work done in Montana with the aid of effective grant programs such as NAWCA and LWCF.”

Hazlewood’s property offered an ideal backdrop for these discussions because it is near Crow Creek Falls, a LWCF project site. Crow Creek Falls was located on part of a mine and old equipment, trash and other contaminates remained on the land. With funding through LWCF and other partners, the site was restored and now offers recreational activities such as fishing, hunting, hiking and camping.

“As a fifth-generation Montanan and sportsman, I know the importance of Montana’s public lands to the people of Montana and our way of life. I appreciate this opportunity to join Ducks Unlimited and Montana sportsmen to discuss the upcoming reauthorization of the Land and Water Conservation Fund and its importance to Montana hunters and anglers. I look forward to continuing to work alongside Montana sportsmen to increase access and create better land use for Montana, so that Montanans can enjoy our public lands and our outdoors heritage for generations to come,” said Rep. Daines.

For 50 years, the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) has been the nation’s primary non-taxpayer-based tool to conserve parks, wildlife refuges, forests, rivers, trails, and other important federal, state and local public lands. The program is funded through revenues from offshore oil and gas development. Montana has received $374 million in LWCF funding over the past four decades.

There are 31 NAWCA projects in Montana, which have conserved 319,397 acres. NAWCA projects must be matched dollar for dollar with federal and nonfederal funding. NAWCA funding going to Montana since the life of the program has almost been matched at a 1-to-5 ratio to nonfederal dollars, with more than $22 million in funding stimulating partner contributions of more than $99.6 million.

The groups thanked Rep. Daines for his support of LWCF funding during the appropriations talks in December and encouraged him to support full funding for the program, as well as steady funding for NAWCA in the upcoming authorization process.

Image courtesy Ducks Unlimited

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