MEMPHIS, Tenn., Aug. 3, 2010 – Thanks to action in the U.S. House of Representatives, sportsmen-conservationists across the country received good news late last week.
Late Friday, the House passed legislation, H.R. 3534, that includes 30 years of full funding for the Land and Water Conservation Fund. The House also adopted an amendment sponsored by Rep. Ron Kind (WI) that will utilize $13.5 million of annual authorized LWCF funding for projects to secure recreational public access from willing sellers on federal lands using easements, rights-of-way or fee title acquisitions. DU supported the specific provision of H.R. 3534 that addresses full funding and permanent appropriation status for the LWCF, but has not taken a position on the full bill.
LWCF is the repository of that portion of offshore oil and gas revenues collected by the federal government that are to be used for land and water conservation. This account typically collects more than $1 billion each year, but has continually been funded far below its authorized level of $900 million.
“The LWCF provisions in the legislation will provide full and dedicated funding to fulfill some of the recreation needs of our country for the next 30 years,” said DU CEO Dale Hall. “LWCF serves waterfowlers and the wetlands in which they hunt not only by funding acquisition of critical habitat in their states, but just as importantly, by protecting waterfowl breeding grounds through the purchase of voluntary conservation easements on private lands, such as in the heart of the Prairie Pothole Region. This increased funding would have a dramatic impact on conserving our nation’s priority waterfowl habitat.”
LWCF monies are used to acquire public lands to be used for habitat conservation and for outdoor recreation. The program serves two levels of recreation—federal funding and state/local grants. It is used to protect key habitats and pay for local recreation areas and will foster more access to public lands for outdoor recreation. DU initiated a targeted Take Action in several states to support the LWCF provision in H.R. 3534. If this proposal were to become law, it would result in $27 billion in total funding for LWCF, half of which would be used for federal acquisition.
Scott Sutherland, director of DU’s Governmental Affairs Office in Washington, D.C., said the House’s adoption of the Kind Amendment is a step in the right direction for sportsmen conservationists. “Thanks to the Kind Amendment, funds from the LWCF could open up more areas in which Americans can hunt, fish and camp. Getting Americans more connected to the great outdoors has been a prominent initiative for the sportsmen’s community, and enacting the Kind Amendment will help achieve that,” he said.
Ducks Unlimited is the world’s largest nonprofit organization dedicated to conserving North America’s continually disappearing waterfowl habitats. Established in 1937, Ducks Unlimited has conserved more than 12 million acres thanks to contributions from more than a million supporters across the continent. Guided by science and dedicated to program efficiency, DU works toward the vision of wetlands sufficient to fill the skies with waterfowl today, tomorrow and forever.