Ensuring the future of elk, other wildlife, their habitat and our hunting heritage.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

RMEF Calls on Congress to Reauthorize Critical Conservation Funding

The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation recognizes the crucial importance of the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) and urges Congress to fully reauthorize it.

Congress passed the Land and Water Conservation Act in 1964. It directs our lawmakers to appropriate up to $900 million every year into LWCF from federal offshore drilling fees for the protection of important land, water and recreation areas for Americans to enjoy. LWCF does not receive taxpayer money. Over its 50-year history, LWCF has protected land in every state and supported more than 41,000 state and local park projects. Unfortunately, it has only been fully funded twice and more than $17 billion of those funds have been diverted elsewhere. And now, Congress is now considering doing away with LWCF altogether.

Since 1990, RMEF has utilized more than $85 million in LWCF funding across 62 projects in ten different states in partnership with federal agencies to protect, conserve and open access to some of the most vital elk country in the United States. Among them are the successful high-profile protection and public access projects of Tenderfoot (Montana) and Headwaters of the John Day (Oregon). Other states with RMEF projects that received LWCF funding include Alaska, California, Colorado, Idaho, North Dakota, South Dakota, Washington and Wisconsin.

John Day Headwaters (Oregon)

Highlighting one state as an example, here are some of the benefits of LWCF in Montana:
  • $237.6 million invested 
  • $34 million spent through the Forest Legacy Program keeping timberland in production 
  • Conserved 181,000 acres of working forest lands through the Forest Legacy Program as of 2012
  • $3.4 million to purchase/improve approximately 165 fishing access sites 
  • Purchased, at least in part, 800 recreational sites such as city parks, trails and ball fields 
  • $6.2 million to buy or upgrade state parks 
  • $7.4 million paid to the state to buy or upgrade lakes, wildlife refuges and other lands
  • $38 million in grants to school districts, state, county and municipal parks departments 
As a conservation organization that has protected or enhanced more than 6.6 million acres of prime elk habitat, and in behalf of sportsmen and women across the nation, RMEF believes it is imperative that Congress reauthorizes LWCF.

Go here to read Keeping Montana the “Last Best Place,” a report on the Land and Water Conservation Fund and its impacts on Montana.

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