As Montanans, we are fortunate to call the wide open spaces, clean water, and crisp air home. The world vacations in our backyard, and even as we in Montana will disagree about many things, we’re bound by a shared passion for our public land.
Public land is, of course, central to our way of life. It hosts Montana’s $7.1 billion outdoor recreation economy as well as our heritage of hunting, fishing, and exploring the woods on trails, and our bipartisan support for open spaces makes up the best of who we are.
Earlier this year, our federal delegation was supportive of these public lands when they passed the permanent reauthorization of the Land and Water Conservation Fund, or LWCF. A big thank you to Senator Tester, Senator Daines and Congressman Gianforte is deserved for their work.
LWCF has enjoyed robust bipartisan support since 1964, and for good reason: it’s our strongest tool for financing conservation and public access projects throughout the west, and does so without costing taxpayers a dime. Right here in Missoula, LWCF helped to protect Mount Sentinel, the North Hills, and Mount Jumbo, and ensured that these places are able to host the networks of trails that they do today.
At the end of 2018, and in a rare show of bipartisan common sense, Congress permanently reauthorized the Land and Water Conservation Fund. The entire Montana delegation voted in favor of it. Thank you.
Now it’s time to finish the job on the Land and Water Conservation Fund and ensure it receives the robust funding needed to be effective. Without full, dedicated funding for the LWCF, many of the outdoor recreation adventures we enjoy can’t happen. These vital dollars maintain our national parks, fishing access sites, protect habitat areas and trail access for hiking and biking.
Right now there is legislation to ensure full funding of LWCF in Congress that is collecting dust in the U.S. Senate. Please, Senator Daines, work with your colleagues to move this bill forward. Our outdoor way of life depends on it.
Senator Daines, will you help us finish the job on LWCF?
Ben Horan is executive director of MTB Missoula.