Thursday, February 14, 2013

Happy Valentine's Day!


Senator Max Baucus has long been an advocate for public access to public lands. That commitment was re-affirmed today with the re-introduction of his bill seeking full funding for the Land and Water Conservation Fund, which is co-sponsored by Senator Jon Tester. 

LWCF is funded by offshore oil and gas leases. Max's bill would fully fund the LWCF program to the tune of $900 million. While that amount may seem large, it's a drop in the bucket given the record leasing we've seen over the last decade, both onshore and off. But that's how President Kennedy wanted it: Those who benefit the most from the development of the public resource need to help fund it's conservation for future generations. 

LWCF projects in Montana run the gamut from fishing access sites to helping elk and deer hunters conserve some of our best winter range. You can check out the LWCF funded projects on our interactive map. Just select the LWCF filter and go to town finding the places that this fund has conserved. 

Places like Tenderfoot Creek wouldn't be open to hunters and anglers today if it weren't for the Land and Water Conservation Fund, first conceived 50 years ago today. Over 70% of Fishing Access Sites in Montana have benefited by funding from the Land and Water Conservation Fund. That’s impressive considering how many trout bums Montana flood our state on an annual basis.

The Land and Water Conservation Fund started as an idea first proposed by President John F. Kennedy in a letter to Congress on Valentines day, 1963. In that letter, President Kennedy said simply:

Actions deferred are all too often opportunities lost, particularly in safeguarding our natural resources. I urge the enactment of this proposal at the earliest possible date so that a further significant step may be taken to assure the availability and accessibility of land and water-based recreation opportunities for all Americans.


Back to 2013:

Senator Baucus has shared President Kennedy’s vision for a long time. Through his efforts, funding has remained on the table during difficult economic times because Max gets something very important: Public Lands are the engines that help fuel Montana’s economy. He also understands that places like the Rocky Mountain Front and the Blackfoot Valley aren't the same without working farms and ranches. LWCF helps conserve those working landscapes for future generations of farmers and ranchers as well as wildlife.

It's critical to continue the conservation legacy that Montana helped start. Back in the 1800's Montana was one of the first states to institute creel limits on fish and bag limits on game. Montana's dedication to conservation continues to this day. The work that Montanans are engaged in throughout the state is reflective of the grassroots, collaborative nature that Montana brings out in folks. At kitchen tables around the state, folks are sitting down and figuring out ways to keep people on the landscape while ensuring future generations will come to know the Montana we all love. The Land and Water Conservation Fund is a huge part of those discussions. 

A tip of the our Stormy Kromer to Senator Max Baucus for his tireless work to ensure that all Montanans have places to hunt and fish as well as keep the economic engine that is outdoor recreation alive in Montana.

Thanks, Max. Well done. 


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