The Mule Deer Foundation thanked the White House today for requesting full funding for the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) for 2015 and beyond. If passed by Congress, the president’s budget that was released today would fulfill the promise of the 50-year old fund that was supposed to dedicate $900 million from revenues from offshore oil and gas development, not taxpayer dollars, for the conservation of lands and for outdoor recreation. Unfortunately, more than $18 billion in funds intended for LWCF have been diverted over the years. In spite of this, the program has been extremely valuable for conserving important fish and wildlife habitat and for providing sportsmen’s access to public lands.
“In mule deer country, public lands provide most of the hunting opportunity as well as protection of important winter range and migratory corridors. The Land and Water Conservation Fund has been a critical tool for helping provide this access and we thank President Obama for restoring the commitment to this key conservation tool,” said Miles Moretti, president and CEO of the Mule Deer Foundation. “Ensuring the funds are dedicated to the purpose for which they were intended will leverage needed funding for conservation easements and acquisitions from willing sellers so that we can continue to protect mule deer habitat and hunter access.”
Enacted in 1964, LWCF was a commitment by Congress to reinvest revenues from the use of one natural resource for the conservation of our outdoor heritage. In spite of only receiving its full allocation twice in its history, LWCF has helped to fund federal, state and local conservation and recreation projects in almost every county in every state in the country. For example, in 2013 LWCF funds were used to acquire access to Bureau of Land Management lands near Maybell, Colorado where previously access to the area was extremely limited. Similar stories can be found throughout the West.
“If you’ve hunted in the Charles M. Russell National Wildlife Refuge in Montana or on the Wallowa-Whitman National Forest in eastern Oregon or the Gunnison Gorge National Conservation Area in Colorado or hundreds of other public land units across the West, then you have benefited from the LWCF. That’s why we appreciate the president’s budget request for full LWCF funding,” Moretti continued. “But the work is not over – it is now up to Congress to reauthorize and fund this critical program. Sportsmen across the country need to get involved in making sure that Congress acts to fulfill this promise.”
Logo courtesy Mule Deer Foundation