The nation’s leading hunting and fishing conservation organizations are calling on the United States Congress to fully fund the Land and Water Conservation Fund, a critical tool for conserving valuable fish and wildlife habitat and improving public access for hunting and fishing.
The request comes in a report released today, the eve of the LWCF’s 50th anniversary. “The Land and Water Conservation Fund and America’s sportsmen and women: A 50-year legacy of increased access and improved habitat” features a series of state-based case studies that profile places and people across that country that have benefited as a result of LWCF funding.
“From Louisiana to Alaska and Maine to California, the Land and Water Conservation Fund is one of the most important federal programs for conserving habitat and providing public access to lands and waters,” said Whit Fosburgh, president and CEO of the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership. “Yet despite the fund’s many conservation success stories, it has gone underfunded for too long, and many opportunities to improve game and fish resources have been missed due to a perpetual lack of funding. Now is the time for Congress to live up to its commitment and fully fund the LWCF.”
Groups collaborating on the report are the American Fly Fishing Trade Association, American Sportfishing Association, Archery Trade Association, B.A.S.S., Backcountry Hunters and Anglers, Delta Waterfowl, Ducks Unlimited, Izaak Walton League of America, Mule Deer Foundation, National Wild Turkey Federation, Pheasants Forever, Pope and Young Club, Professional Bowhunters Society, Quail Forever, Quality Deer Management Association, Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership, Trout Unlimited and Wild Sheep Foundation.
“Hunters and anglers are an economic engine within the United States, spending a combined total of approximately $90 billion in 2011 alone,” said Mule Deer Foundation President Miles Moretti. “These expenditures help create hundreds of thousands of jobs at the local, state and national levels. An increased commitment to the Land and Water Conservation Fund by Congress would help to sustain and grow America’s hunting and fishing based economy.”
Established in 1964 through a bipartisan act of Congress, the federal LWCF is supported through royalties paid by energy companies drilling for oil and gas on the Outer Continental Shelf. The fund’s promise, however, is eclipsed by the fact that, since 1978, the LWCF has been fully funded only once.
“Over and over again there have been worthwhile projects that would benefit fish and wildlife and access for sportsmen – projects that have broad public support,” said Becky Humphries, executive vice president of conservation for the National Wild Turkey Federation. “But what is missing is financial support from the Land and Water Conservation Fund due to inadequate funding for the program. American sportsmen are calling on our federal decision makers to ensure full funding for the LWCF.”
State-by-state case studies in the new report show how the LWCF benefits sportsmen, with Montana, Utah, Louisiana, Kentucky, Alaska, Wisconsin, Ohio, North Carolina, Idaho and the Dakotas among those featured. The report also highlights projects that would benefit fish and game resources and improve access to hunters and anglers but have stalled due to a lack of available LWCF dollars.
“For 50 years, the Land and Water Conservation Fund has done, from a sportsman’s perspective, exactly what it was intended to do: protect crucial fish and wildlife habitat to help sustain our nation’s rich outdoor traditions,” said Steve Moyer, Trout Unlimited vice president for government affairs.
Sportsmen will deliver the report to members of Congress and brief members in key committee positions.
Katie McKalip, 406-240-9262, firstname.lastname@example.org
Logo courtesy Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership